DepEd clarifies: We welcomed OVP’s learning hubs, but face-to-face classes not OK
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) has clarified that while it welcomed the Office of the Vice President (OVP) Community Learning Hubs project, it did not mean that limited in-person classes were allowed.
In a statement on Tuesday, DepEd said that there were no partnerships for limited in-person classes — adding that their earlier statements distancing from OVP’s program were about a recent story about the hubs, which showed that the limited in-person classes were a shared initiative between OVP and DepEd.
Earlier, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the department did not approve of OVP’s learning hubs because of the ban on face-to-face classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This, DepEd says now, is only about a Philippine Daily Inquirer story on Monday entitled “OVP partners with DepEd, others for limited in-person classes.”
“The clarification we made that there was no partnership with the OVP for face-to-face classes is with reference to the [Philippine Daily] Inquirer story titled ‘OVP partners with DepEd, others for limited in-person classes,’” DepEd said.
“It is of public knowledge that the present policy is for distance learning modality only, and that reintroduction of face-to-face classes involving the congregation of learners will require approval by the President given the public health considerations,” the department added.
In the story, it was mentioned that around 80 students are now attending limited in-person remedial classes at the pilot Community Learning Hub in Eusebio Bliss Village 2 of Pasig City. This project is supposedly undertaken in coordination with DepEd.
“The hub’s current operations head, Michelle Roman, is part of the DepEd’s city division office in Pasig, said Mario Galvez, the hub lead supervisor in this city and consultant to the city mayor, Vico Sotto,” the PDI story said.
According to DepEd, it has no idea how Vice President Leni Robredo’s office presented the community learning hub initiative. But they admitted that they considered the project a good initiative — which coincides with OVP spokesperson Barry Gutierrez’s assertions earlier.
“We are not privy to how the OVP has represented their initiative to media and are responding only to the news item. Last August, we forwarded OVP’s letters and our reply to the President and the Executive Secretary,” DepEd said.
“While we stated in our letter-reply that we welcomed the initiative of the OVP, this was in a general sense as we welcome all support for learning continuity, but we sought details precisely to allow us to evaluate the initiative. It was clearly not an agreement to a partnership, much less a reversal of a standing policy of no face-to-face classes at this time, even on a limited scale,” it added.
In a briefing on Tuesday morning, Briones said that DepEd disapproved of OVP’s plans because the government has yet to allow the face-to-face classes, despite the community learning hub being a mere studying area for those without gadgets and stable internet connectivity.
Gutierrez clarified that the learning hubs — a project of OVP and its private sector partners — are not classrooms where students have to enter every day. Instead, the students, especially those who have no gadgets or internet connection to use, could visit the hubs to get additional help or submit their requirements.
Due to the pandemic, the government has decided to shift education to distance learning or online classes and blended learning or education through modules. However, many critics have insisted that DepEd was not prepared for the shift, as gadget availability and data connections are lingering issues.
DepEd said that they are crafting updated recommendations that would be given to President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We just had a meeting with the Educ Forum this morning, where we shared the considerations for face-to-face classes, and that we are still about to finish our updated recommendation to the President for his consideration,” the department noted. [ac]
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