OPTIMISTIC. Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte delivers her speech at the kickoff program of the National Brigada Eskwela at the Imus Pilot Elementary School in Cavite on Monday (Aug. 1, 2022). Duterte expressed optimism the education sector will overcome challenges brought about by the pandemic and various natural calamities that hit the country. (Screengrab from Facebook live stream)

MANILA – Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte has expressed optimism the education sector will continue to overcome various challenges.

Duterte made this remark as she led the opening of the Brigada Eskwela at Imus Pilot Elementary School in Cavite on Monday after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19 pandemic.

In her speech, Duterte said the Department of Education (DepEd) seems to be in a quicksand, dealing with the impacts of the Covid-19 and various natural calamities that hit the country since last year.

“We continue to face the threats of the Covid 19 pandemic, along with many other unexpected challenges that hamper our daily progress for our learners, monkeypox, baha, bagyo (flooding, typhoon), earthquake, all of that will come. What is important is that we have the determination to succeed in our mission,” she said

Duterte noted that this administration’s focus and the multi-sectoral aid will help schools and learners prepare for the upcoming school year.

“We were in a meeting last week and I was telling our Usecs and Asecs that we are in quicksand. But I am confident, and I am optimistic that the Department of Education will overcome, and we will overcome with the support of our national government and the administration of President Bongbong Marcos,” she said.

Significantly different

Since the pandemic is not over yet, the DepEd recognizes the significant role of parents, local government units, and private stakeholders to ensure “Bayanihan” in Brigada Eskwela, aiming to have a safe school reopening.

“Simula nung 2020, hanggang 2021, walang ginagawang repair sa school during the pandemic, ngayong taon na pagsasagawa ng Brigada Eskwela, pinahihintulutan na basta susundin na ‘yung health and safety protocols, at kinakailangan vaccinated sila (From 2020 until 2021, no school repairs were made during the pandemic, but during this year’s launching of Brigada Eskwela, this will be allowed, subject to health and safety protocols, they also need to be vaccinated),” Undersecretary Gerald Chan said.

Aside from maintenance and repair activities, the DepEd assured measures are in place to ensure “safe and healthy setting” of face-to-face classes starting August 22.

DepEd Calabarzon Assistant Regional Director Cherrylou Repia said parents are very cooperative with the upcoming reopening of classes.

“We have seen the parents helping and, becoming teacher aids, they volunteer because they realized that it’s easier to help the schools rather than they are the one teaching their children at home,” Rapia said.

Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) replaced Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) as kickoff venue of Brigada Eskwela due to the magnitude 7 earthquake that hit Abra and other northern Luzon areas.

To reduce dropouts, the DepEd has also prepared various programs, including “Brigada Pagbasa” where learners will be provided with catch-up activities to improve their reading abilities. (PNA)