LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 13 (PNA)-- The social welfare and education departments in Bicol Region are conducting an emergency provision of food assistance to Bigrada Eskwela volunteers to hasten the restoration and rehabilitation of school facilities affected by typhoon 'Nina.'
Tolentino Aquino, assistant regional director of the Department of Education (DepEd), said the food assistance is under the “food-for-work” program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
He said the food support is in collaboration with DepEd to support formation of the “emergency” Brigade Eskwela.
Brigada Eskwela consists of “voluntary troops or brigades” of parents, teachers, students and other members of the school community who have been organized by DepEd and the Parents and Teachers Associations in all campuses of public elementary and high schools nationwide to provide clean-up and maintenance services for school facilities just weeks before the start of every schoolyear.
Aquino said the call to duty to the Brigada Eskwela volunteers at this time of the schoolyear is to help the “immediate recovery and rehabilitation of classrooms.”
He said it has become “imperative not to defer the access to education.”
“Brigada Eskwela can also become applicable during and after emergency conditions,” he added.
DSWD and DepEd have signed a memorandum of agreement to fast track the repair of school facilities in the Bicol Region which were damaged by typhoon 'Nina.'
Aquino said the move to mobilize anew the volunteers hopes to “promote the values of cooperation, cleanliness, camaraderie and sense of community involvement,” which he said are significant factors for the fast recovery of the schools.
He said after typhoon 'Nina' hit Bicol on Christmas Day, the pupils’ attendance in schools became a big issue.
“The students often help their parents find food for the family,” said Aquino.
He said the food assistance to be provided by DSWD is highly significant for the parents and community members who will provide volunteer services for the remobilized Brigada Eskwela.
“The volunteers themselves were victims of the calamity,” he said. He said DSWD-Bicol has already provided 350 family food packs to DepEd, which are intended for Catanduanes and Camarines Sur.
Aquino said DepEd is set to request 5,000 food packs to be given to the other provinces.
He said the priority provinces and municipalities include those in the third district of Albay (such as Polangui, Oas, Libon and neighboring municipalities); areas in Tabaco City near San Miguel Island in the first district of Albay; some municipalities in Masbate; and the provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MDR/CBD