EDITORIAL | Brigada Eskwela: Contemporary Bayanihan

The word “bayanihan” often conjures the image of a group of men bearing the weight of a nipa hut on their shoulders to help the homeowners transfer to another location. While this is a romantic and nostalgic image, it appears anachronistic in this day and age when the practice, once commonplace, is now a rarity, especially in urban areas.

The spirit of bayanihan, however, has not died down, and instead transformed into other practices, such as volunteers braving floods and fires in aid of those stricken by calamities to the Brigada Eswkela, in which people from various sectors come together to prepare the school for the upcoming year.

Launched in 2003, the Brigada Eskwela became an annual activity, transforming the concept of bayanihan from something that was engaged in only by selected members of the community to something to which anyone may contribute. It updates the notion of bayanihan into something more fitting to the contemporary times with the inclusion of everyone regardless of class, age, or gender.

The Brigada Eskwela is solid proof that the community may unite against some of the challenges that beset Philippine education, such as rough blackboards or broken chairs, which distract learners and educators. And although it is not a panacea for the other concerns such as insufficient learning resources and inadequate training for teachers, it is, and thankfully so, a step in the right direction.

It is also a testament to the shared responsibility that all Filipinos have to improving education in our nation. Our role as Filipinos with regard to education is not limited to perennially pointing out the weaknesses of the system, but must also encompass a more proactive stance by involving ourselves into the solution of said weaknesses.

As the Brigada Eskwela kicks off this year, we urge everyone to do his or her part in contributing efforts to preparing the schools for the upcoming year. It is, after all, our moral responsibility not only to the academe but also to ourselves, to ensure that Philippine education is ameliorated.