Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell and volunteers from the Australian Embassy participated in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Brigada Eskwela at the Cuneta Elementary School in Pasay City, Metro Manila. The event, held last May 14, 2015, kicked off a series of painting and clean-up activities by the Embassy for the yearly school maintenance program.
Launched in May 2003, the Brigada Eskwela sought to bring together community members, parents and teachers in repairing and preparing public schools for the incoming school year. Over the years, the program has evolved from a week-long clean-up and beautification exercise to a festive collaboration of stakeholders in education: students, parents, teachers, school officials, local government officials, religious organizations, civil society and the private sector.
“We always look forward to Brigada Eskwela and working side by side with students, teachers, communities and DepEd to help schools get ready for the new school year,” Ambassador Twedell remarked.
““Our volunteer work is in the true tradition of Australian mateship and in the spirit of Filipino bayanihan, which involves working together to reach a common goal. It is equality, generosity and fellowship,” he added.
Australia’s participation in Brigada Eskwela is part of the extensive and long-tern education partnership between the Philippines and Australia. Dating back to the 1950s, Australia continues to prioritise education as one of its development assistance to the Philippines. “From training teachers, assisting DepEd in the development of curricula, to building and repainting classrooms, Australia supports the Philippine Government’s programs and reforms in education to promote inclusive social and economic development and prosperity,” stated the Australian Embassy.
2015 marks the sixth year of the Embassy’s participation in Brigada Eskwela. Since 2010, the Australian Embassy has provided support to more than 120 schools in the country. This year, more than 100 volunteers comprising of Australian Embassy employees and their families, as well as aid program implementing partners, have participated in the clean-up and beautification of five schools in Metro Manila, namely Maricaban Elementary School (Pasay), Marcelo Marcela Elementary School(Pasay), Cuneta Elementary School(Pasay), Taguig Elementary School (Taguig) and Captain H. Francisco Elementary School (Pateros).