Robredo office releases letters between OVP and DepEd on learning hubs issue
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Vice President (OVP) has released letters between them and the Department of Education (DepEd) as concerns were raised about the learning hubs initiative’s compliance with government regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In two separate messages, OVP sent copies of Vice President Leni Robredo’s letter to Secretary Leonor Briones last August 10 — which contained questions on how distance learning and blended modes would be conducted during the health crisis.
OVP also forwarded Briones’s replies, which answered Robredo’s concerns, and a letter from Robredo dated September 4 containing their proposal to set up internet hubs.
In the September 4 letter, Robredo revealed the plan to establish community learning hubs — a joint project between OVP and its private sector partners that would give students in impoverished areas access to adequate gadgets and consistent internet speeds.
“To support students in making the most of the current distance learning modality, my Office has undertaken the establishment of Community Learning Hubs. Through the hubs, learners will have a place to go to get tutorial support […], particularly those that come from environments where home-based learning will not be conducive,” she said in the letter.
“These sites are also meant to serve as internet hubs in far-flung communities where connectivity at home is a challenge,” she added.
Issues about supposedly limited in-face tutorials in OVP’s learning hubs in Pasig City were raised in a briefing on Tuesday, where Briones distanced from the project.
Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez then insisted that the community learning hubs were coordinated with DepEd, even claiming that the department considered it a good initiative.
Gutierrez also clarified that the hubs should not be considered as samples of face-to-face classes because students go to the hubs on a limited basis only.
But on Tuesday, DepEd clapped back by saying that while it welcomed the OVP project, the department was referring to news reports which depicted that limited in-face classes were being held in the hubs.
OVP has repeatedly assured that the learning hubs are safe as students do not have to go every day, while regular sanitation and health protocols were observed in the areas.
“The Community Learning Hubs initiative was coordinated with the Department of Education, at both the national and local levels, every step of the way. In official correspondences between OVP and DepEd, Sec. Briones herself mentioned that ‘it is a good initiative’ and in fact requested for additional details to ‘evaluate the feasibility of implementing such a program at scale,’” Gutierrez said on Tuesday.
“Strict compliance with health protocols is followed in the hubs. There is also proper coordination not just with local DepEd Divisions but also local government units to ensure a safe and effective learning environment,” he added.
Due to the pandemic, the government has decided to shift to distance learning or online classes and blended learning or education through modules. However, critics have insisted that DepEd was not prepared for the shift, as gadget availability and data connections are lingering issues.
Currently, many student groups are calling for either an academic freeze or an academic strike, in protest of the government’s alleged slow and incompetent response to the recent typhoons. [ac]
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