BEST PRACTICE. Vilma Chavaria (center), headteacher of San Antonio Elementary School in Barcelona, Sorsogon, receives an award for her initiative that won the Best Partnership Engagement Activity award from the Department of Education-Bicol (DepEd-5) on Thursday (Feb. 17, 2022). Her initiative of providing livelihood training to students' parents that helped them earn extra income was cited as among the best practices in the region's education sector. (Photo by Connie Calipay)

LEGAZPI CITY – Despite the challenges brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to the education sector, the San Antonio Elementary School in Barcelona, Sorsogon was able to give an additional source of income to students' parents even while helping their children answer modules.

The project won for the school the "Best Partnership Engagement Activity" award from the Department of Education-Bicol (DepEd-5) during a ceremony held at Marison Hotel here on Thursday.

The selection of winners was based on the 2021 "Brigada Eskwela and Brigada Pagbasa" initiative of the DepEd central office and implemented nationwide.

During the giving of recognition to the Best Implementing Schools and Outstanding Volunteers, Vilma Chavaria, headteacher of San Antonio Elementary School, said the "May hanapbuhay, Iwas Covid-19 pa" project was one of the promising practices of their school that started in September last year.

"A parent approached me, asking 'maam, how can we help our children since we don't have jobs now or extra income to help our daily needs?' From then, I thought of a way to help them to have an additional livelihood," Chavaria said in an interview.

She said one of the capacity-building initiatives she initiated is the soap-making project involving an initial of seven parents.

"With it, I connected with the local government unit (LGU) of Barcelona, then they trained on soap making with the main ingredients of cosmos (plant) that were available within the streets of Barcelona," she added.

The LGU provided free training, equipment, and ingredients, which encouraged more parents to start making soap and eventually marketed their products.

Aside from soap making, Chavaria said they introduced other skills training to the parents such as haircut and hair rebonding.

From a PHP3,000 capital, the parents have now earned more than PHP10,000, she noted.

Meanwhile, Brigada Eskwela and Brigada Pagbasa regional focal person Ma. Cristina Baroso said a PHP5-billion monetary equivalent of mobilized resources was generated for the 2021 Brigada Eskwela and Brigada Pagbasa projects.

"Because of the impact of the pandemic for 2020, we generated PHP1.2-billion. Now we have PHP5-billion generated resources because of the Brigada Pagbasa program, our call for volunteers that started last June that we opened for all who are willing to support and continue the learning continuity plan," Baroso said.

She said with the Brigada Pagbasa, DepEd-5 was able to engage 400,000 partners or volunteers for the program who served as reading facilitators or tutors for the learners in their community.

The funding support given by LGUs contributed to the success of the 2021 Brigada Eskwela and Brigada Pagbasa, Baroso added.

Gilbert Sadsad, DepEd-5 regional director, said the Brigada Pagabasa will be a major program in terms of learning recovery plans.

"It will be used as one of the strategies in the region. With the overwhelming support from the volunteers, in the reports given after the assessment, there were improvements in the reading progress of the students," he said.

The DepEd regional office conducted an assessment for the best implementors of Brigada Eskwela and among them, 26 schools in Bicol were chosen as regional awardees from the nominees in the cities and provinces. (PNA)