The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday pushed for efforts to build more disaster-resilient classrooms as he called for multi-sectoral participation in the annual Brigada Eskwela slated this month.
DepEd Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali encouraged parents, communities and private companies to build together more resilient classrooms in preparation for typhoon season and the start of public school classes on June 5.
Brigada Eskwela, an annual DepEd activity where public and private sector participants clean up, repair and reinforce school buildings, will be held from May 15 to 20.
“Our classrooms [ay] dapat resilient in times of disasters. We want to build better, that is the essence of doing all this, improving the technical specifications of our classrooms of our classrooms,” Umali said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel’s Early Edition.
“We don’t want classrooms being destroyed, knowing that our country’s being visited by an average of 19-20 typhoons per year. We don’t want that to happen.”
Umali added that the classrooms should be strong enough to withstand a magnitude-9 earthquake and typhoon winds traveling at more than 300km per hour.
He said the use of classrooms as evacuation centers should be a last resort.
“Though the present policy of our DepEd is that our classrooms should be made as evacuation centers as a last option. At kung wala na pong makitang barangay centers, multi-purpose covered courts, maaaring gamitin ang ating silid-aralan,” he said.
DepEd plans to construct 47,000 classrooms over the next few years, he said.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones will officially launch Brigada Eskwela on May 15 at the Ramon Duterte High School in Cebu.
DepEd is also set to launch Brigada Eskwela Plus, a year-round cleanup and repair of schools.
“The concept of engaging our stakeholders, our partners, for them to help in our schools, we believe it should be year-round. We hope that the concept of 'bayanihan' will not only happen during the school opening but the whole school year,” Umali said.
Awards will also be given away such as the Brigada Hall of Fame, in which schools that win annually will be inducted, and the Brigada Eskwela Seal of Excellence, which will recognize local government units that serve as examples of having education as a priority.
Online applications for DepEd’s Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) has also been extended to May 15 for senior high school voucher applicants. Those interested to apply may log on to www.ovap.deped.gov.ph.
Results will be released on May 31. Those who are automatically qualified are Grade 10 students from public schools and Education Service Contracting beneficiaries from Grade 7 to 10 in private schools.
DepEd has a P35-billion allocation for GASTPE, which he said is enough for 2.1 million beneficiaries.
With a budget of P543.2 billion this year, DepEd plans to hire 53,000 teachers and 13,000 non-teaching personnel, according to Umali.