DepEd never said no to OVP learning hubs, says Robredo aide
MANILA, Philippines — The Community Learning Hubs project of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) was initiated because the Department of Education (DepEd) did not reply to their letter, and as there was no order from the agency to scrap the proposals.
According to OVP spokesperson Barry Gutierrez, they never got any opposition from DepEd regarding the Community Learning Hubs until Education Secretary Leonor Briones distanced the department from the project.
The learning hubs were an initiative of OVP and its private sector partners which aim to provide less fortunate students the adequate gadgets and stable internet connection while the current educational system is still using a distance or blended learning mode due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
OVP has repeatedly claimed that DepEd and Briones believed that the learning hubs were a good initiative, but Gutierrez was asked why they proceeded with the program even without a formal ‘go signal’ from the department — as the good remarks may not be indicative of an order to proceed.
“September 8 pinadala na namin iyong detalye. Hindi na sila sumagot. Alam nila na papasok na kami sa pilot. Kung at any point during the process sinabi nila sa amin, ‘huwag niyong ituloy dahil kailangan niyo ng approval namin dito,’ eh hindi namin itutuloy,” Gutierrez told One News on Wednesday.
(We sent them the details last September 8, but they did not answer anymore. They know that we are going towards the pilot phase. And if at any point during the process they told us to stop because we need their approval, we would have stopped it.)
“Eh pero wala naman silang sinasabi. Ang sabi nila, ‘Magandang initiative ito. Gusto naming pag-aralan kung puwedeng ma-implement at scale’ — ang understanding ko sa mas malawakang paraan — ‘Bigyan niyo kami ng detalye,’” he added.
(But they did not say anything, they just said that it is a ‘good initiative, and we want to study if this would be implemented at scale,’ or to my understanding, at a bigger scale. They asked us to give more details.)
Gutierrez also insisted that there was nothing wrong with the hubs as these are not classrooms — repeating that DepEd believed it was a good initiative.
“In fact, ang aming understanding dito hindi naman talaga — wala silang pagtutol. Wala silang pagbawal. Wala silang — hindi nila sinasabi na ‘bago niyo ituloy ito, dapat i-approve muna namin o pag-aaralan namin,’ walang ganoon,” Gutierrez explained.
(In fact, our understanding is that they haven’t opposed it, they haven’t asked us to stop it. They never said anything like ‘before you continue, we should approve or study it first.’)
“Ang buong impression namin ay ito ay makakakuha ng kanilang suporta. And dahil naman ang katrabaho namin dito LGUs at iyong mga LGUs ang nagpatupad, wala kaming nakikitang mali,” he added.
(Our impression is that we got their support. And since we were working with LGUs, and LGUs are the ones implementing it, we do not see anything wrong with it.)
Gutierrez also claimed that they sent out letters last September, in reply to previous letters between Vice President Leni Robredo and Briones — copies of which were released by OVP on Wednesday.
The Community Learning Hubs recently came under criticism during a Malacañang briefing after Briones was asked by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque whether limited face-to-face classes are now allowed despite the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But OVP has insisted that the hubs are not a classroom with regular in-person classes; rather, it is an area where students can get assistance over their modules. They also maintained that students visit on a fixed schedule while minimum health requirements are observed.
OVP also assured that the hubs were coordinated with DepEd before it was implemented.
Despite the government using distance mode of learning or online classes, and blended learning or education through modules, a lot of students and teachers believe that DepEd was not prepared for the shift.
More than a month since the current school year opened, gadget availability and data connections remain to be lingering issues.
Currently, a lot of student groups are calling for either an academic freeze or academic strike, in protest of the government’s alleged slow and incompetent response to the recent typhoons, and the problems encountered with distance learning.
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