MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, December 22, 2017 – Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones spearheaded the Brigada Eskwela sa Marawi (BESM) kick-off at Amai Pakpak Central Elementary School (APCES) on December 13.
BESM is the Department’s flagship program for the recovery and rehabilitation of the Islamic City after the five-month siege displaced thousands of learners and teachers.
"This is only the start of a series of Brigada Eskwela activities in Marawi. This will be a continuing activity up to next year. We will not stop until all the school buildings are really school-ready," Briones emphasized during the kick-off ceremony.
To ensure safety and security of the participants, BESM is being implemented in phases, the first of which was carried out in schools that already opened classes.
Officials and personnel of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) of DepEd Central Office, DRRM coordinators and engineers of the Regional and Division Offices, and personnel from the Division of Marawi City formed part of the actual conduct of BESM on December 14 and 15.
“Today, we are only covering 15 schools. Each of the Regional Directors, and a member of our Executive Committee are visiting one school,” Briones added.
The event was also attended by Undersecretaries Alain Pascua and Jesus Mateo, Assistant Secretaries Revsee Escobedo and G.H. Ambat, DRRMS Director Ronilda Co, DepEd-Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Secretary John Magno, DepEd-ARMM Assistant Secretaries Alfhadar Pajiji and Marjuni Maddi, all DepEd Regional Directors, and Schools Division Superintendents of Mindanao.
In her message, Codubbed BESM as the “official entry of the Department of Education into the rehabilitation and recovery efforts" in Marawi.
She also underscored the contributions of DepEd Central, Regional, and Division offices, which responded immediately after the armed conflict in Marawi broke out, and provided post-conflict needs assessments.
Conduct of subsequent phase/s of BESM will be announced once relevant security agencies give the go signal for the opening of classes in other schools.
Schools inside Marawi’s ‘ground zero’
In a press conference following the kick-off, Pascua said they were able to visit three schools inside Marawi's main battle area on December 12, namely: Ibango Central Elementary School; Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School; and Banggolo Elementary School which was heavily damaged.
He added that these schools can no longer be repaired and have to be demolished. Rebuilding these, whether on-site or off-site, will depend on the masterplan of the Task Force Bangon Marawi.
Donations for Marawi
Prior to the implementation of BESM, different interventions were made to ensure the needs of affected learners and teachers would be provided.
In a presentation dated December 6, DRRMS reported the following assistance given by various partners and DepEd field offices which have already been delivered to Marawi and distributed to those affected by the armed conflict:
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“Never make children weep”
As of October 5, a total of 31,393 displaced learners are enrolled in different schools all over the country, with Region 10 hosting most of them. On September 5, 12 schools in Marawi were cleared to open.
"We are very happy to notice that not only the children have returned, but also the teachers," Briones said. She recounted that a teacher, who was forced to flee to Dumaguete City due to the armed conflict, and took care of about 200 elementary school students there, has returned to Marawi.
During her visit in Camp Bagong Amai PakPak Elementary School, Briones noticed a student crying while performing a sing and dance number. When asked why she was crying, the student told the Secretary that she wanted Marawi back.
"I promised her that before she really fully grows up, Marawi will be restored," the Education chief vowed.