Ubujan District, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, May 23, (PIA) ----THE buzzle of activity could have subsided as the government caravan of more than 30 vehicles departed for another kick-off activity, May 23, 2011. Not here at Ubujan Elementary School in Tagbilaran City, 2009 and 2010 National winner for the Best Brigada Eskwela Implementer for small schools category.
Here was the site of the early morning regional kick off activity for Bohol’s 2011 Brigada Eskwela, a national schools’ maintenance program that fits into a week-long flurry of voluntary repairs, beautifications and clean-up activities by parents to prepare the schools for the opening of classes the following week.
Barely two hours since the Department of Education regional and provincial officials led by Regional Director Ricaredo Borgonio and Division Superintendent Lorna Rances left for Talibon, parents wielding bolos, grass cutters, hammers, saws and construction materials trickled in.
It was an altogether different scene from two hours ago.
Then, everything was formal, teachers in their lavender printed Brigada t-shirts and a horde of volunteer parents converged at the school stage for the formal kick-off ceremonies.
Now, clad in work clothes, the brigade is armed and ready for the job. Locked and loaded.
Florentino Bacog, 78-year old grandfather logged in for volunteer work the moment he arrived.
Wearing a white hard hat and wielding a jungle bolo, the grandfather of grade two enrollee Vincent Bacog, cuts the overgrown grasses in a fenced portion of the school ground while saying he will just wait it out until other volunteers would head home when he goes too.
He is also a grandpa to another kid, Vincent’s sister who lives with her mother on another part of the village.
Bacog is just one among the many parents who volunteered that day, and definitely one of the oldest.
A few meters from his share of ground, a visibly pregnant mother in probably her second trimester alternately chops the weeds and bends to sweep her cut grass with a midrib broom.
When most pregnant mothers would easily find their situation a neat excuse, she was just all smiles while sweat rolling down her brow tells nothing but dedication to the task at hand.
Smoke from burnt grass alternately fill the air as a faint smell of wet paint and freshly sewn lumber tells one about the flurry of construction work and ground beautification going on.
A cacophony of poundings could be heard from the some rooms where carpenters mend a shaky bench or replace a dilapidated ceiling.
Under the leadership of school principal Juanita C. Lafuente and Parent-Teachers’ Association president Adolfo Yecyec Jr, Ubujan continuously transformed into a school in a garden and a child friendly educational center following the child-friendly school system in place in the DepED, said teacher Rebecca Jangad.
Jangad also said that the PTA has relentlessly pushed for projects, one of which is fund raising for a television set and DVD player for every classroom, putting up an additional room and making a garden in the school through sheer volunteerism.
To illustrate her point, she guided us to the plastic bottles creatively converted into hanging plant receptacles which not only adorned the Marcos type buildings but also put up an effective classroom sunshade.
That day May 23, the brigade’s grades 2 and 4 parents came in to volunteer for the annual classroom maintenance activity.
It would be another grade level tomorrow, teacher Jangad said.
On a nearby classroom, teacher Annabelle Pergamino holds a summer class for 26 pre-school kids to prepare them for the opening of classes.
“These kids would be enrolled in Grade 1 and we just would like to make sure they can cope with the minimum requirements,” she said adding that some of the kids have not satisfactorily completed the government mandatory day care requirements for some reasons.
She said she had her room maintenance set ahead because they want a ready classroom during the morning’s kick off launch.
Aside from a visible television and digital video disk player, Pergamino’s classroom, as with the rest of the schools learning rooms, lush green potted plants neutralize the colorful visual aids and charts posted on walls or appropriately framed, giving the room a homey feeling, one that is conducive to learning.
School enrollment has increased too, said teacher Jangad who showed a chart which tracked progress from 398 pupils in 2004 to 567 in 2010 and a drop-out rate of .43 in 2010 from 2 percent in 2006.
The school has also adopted Saturday Review Classes with free snacks, remedial teaching schedules while teachers and administrators put in close monitoring and supervision to learners to ascertain pupil improvement, according to teacher Jangad.
The school also implements the multiple intelligence method of teaching that it earned for it Consistent Winner of the Physical evaluation in Bohol’s District level evaluations.
At the division level, Ubujan also won the Best ECARP implementation, Best in science Park, Most Functional PTA and the Best SBTP implementer.
At the widening gap in the government’s school building project compared to the increase in school children, maintenance funds are simply too meager, Bacog opined in Cebuano.
We do our little share, it may not be much but it will help the government channel its meager funds to put up the necessary learning facilities, the septuagenarian said.
It’s never an easy task, but with a volunteer brigade like that in Ubujan, there’s no task so difficult. (Rey Anthony Chiu)