SANTO TOMAS, Davao del Norte— Disaster preparedness marked the annual Brigada Eskwela or the nationwide school maintenance week Monday.
At the Sto. Tomas National High School, close to a thousand volunteers replaced and repainted roofs, cemented footpaths, repaired leaky water pipes, rewired faulty electrical facilities and painted walls.
Dr. Josephine Fadul, Davao del Norte Schools Division Superintendent, said “the school maintenance effort aims to engage all education stakeholders to contribute their time and resources, in ensuring that all facilities in public elementary and secondary schools are ready for the forthcoming school opening.”
“(T)his year’s Brigada Eskwella will focus on developing disaster-resilient school communities and making schools disaster-ready,” Fadul added.
The Department of Education said this to “ease the school’s vulnerability to both natural and human-made disasters.”
Fifteen public elementary schools in the towns of Kapalong, New Corella, Carmen and Braulio Dujali in Davao del Norte are said to be “disaster-prone” as these schools are located in low-lying areas which makes it vulnerable to floods, said Romulo Tagalo, Executive Director of Province of Davao del Norte Risk Reduction Management Council.
The province’s disaster-prone schools are Ising Carmen Elementary School, Mamacao Elementary School, Mabantao Elementary School, Pag-asa Elementary School, Tiburcia Elementary School, Concepcion Elementary School, Asuncion Elementary school, Mesaoy Elementary School, Magupising Elementary School, Capungagan Elementary School, Sto. Nino Elementary School, San Vincente Elementary School, Maniki Elementary School, New Corella Elementary School and Limbaan New Corella Elementary School.
For its part, the Knights of Columbus Brothers Credit Cooperative (KCBCC), a partner organization of Tulalian Elementary School for this year’s Brigada Eskwela said that “government must raise the budget for the education sector since most of the classrooms were already dilapidated and could not withstand the impact of typhoons.”
“Although it is also part of our corporate social responsibility to extend assistance to public schools, it should be the primary mandate of the government to keep all schools safe from human-induced and natural disasters. The government must seriously consider raising the budget for education,” Manager Rene Bongabong said.
As it geared towards “Making Our Schools Safer”, the Department of Education has prepared guidelines outlining the schools and its partners in ensuring the protection of the students, teachers and properties.
“The guidelines are designed to impact other disaster preparedness and mitigation measures in schools that need to be done at any point in time within the school year,” Fadul said.
Fadul also told Davao Today that it will help the public schools in “outlining both natural and human-induced hazards as well as vulnerabities in the campus and the surrounding areas.”
The Division of Davao del Norte has allotted Php 50, 000 for this year’s Bridaga Eskwela sourced from the Province of Davao del Norte Special Educatiin Fund (SEF).
The Brigada Eskwela in Davao del Norte will run from May 19-24, 2014 with participation from various government agencies, private sectors, volunteer organizations, parents, students, teachers and school personnel.
Tagalo said that “the provincial government through Oplan ANDAM led the stakeholders in the voluntary clean-up activity.”
“Simultaneous lectures are also being conducted on basic life-saving techniques, water sanitation and hygiene, river bank protection, and earthquake/fire drills,” Tagalo said.
Reached through phone, DepEd Undersecretary for Partnerships and Linkages Mario Deriquito also emphasized that “DepEd and community stakeholders are taking a lead role in planning activities that will promote a safe school environment for the teachers and students.” (Mart D. Sambalud/davaotoday.com)