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Briones: OVP-led Community Learning Hubs not sanctioned by DepEd

The Department of Education (DepEd) has distanced itself from the establishment of Community Learning Hubs or places which provide support for students sans face-to-face classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic such as free access to computers, gadgets, equipment, internet, and tutors, saying such initiative is not sanctioned by the DepEd.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones made the response when she was asked by Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. who claimed that Vice President Leni Robredo announced that she has a project with DepEd which allows face-to-face classes for six students at a time.

A statement from the Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo issued last October 20, however, stated that the establishment of Community Learning Hubs is an initiative of OVP, local government units (LGUs), and the private sector, not DepEd.

“Last August, nag-request ang OVP na sina-suggest nila iyang project na ‘yan, sinagot namin, humingi kami details. Ang polisiya namin, dahil sinusunod natin ang utos ng Presidente, hindi natin iyan ina-allow,” Briones said in a Palace briefing, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order not to resume face-to-face classes pending availability of a vaccine against COVID-19.

“Wala naman sa authority ng DepEd na ire-reverse natin ang sinasabi ng Presidente,” Briones added.

Given the situation, Briones said that the OVP coordinated with LGUs.

“So ang sitwasyon ngayon, halimbawa sa Pasig, nag-coordinate sila sa LGU ng Pasig dahil hindi naman in-approve ng Division superintendent ‘yun. Sa Caloocan [City] naman, hindi rin natuloy, dahil hindi rin in-approve ng ating Division superintendent dahil may policy nga tayo [against face-to-face classes]. Hindi rin in-approve ng LGU. Sa Taytay, Rizal naman, nakipagugnayan sila sa barangay, pero hindi involved ang DepEd,” Briones pointed out.

“Walang ganung klaseng kasunduan [with DepEd], walang ganung klaseng approval [ang DepEd], at nanatili pa rin ang policy ng ating Presidente na walang face-to-face session ang bata dahil wala pang vaccine,” Briones added.

It was in June when Robredo's office called for partners and volunteers for the establishment of learning hubs across the country to help students and teachers in preparation for online learning and modular distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online learning requires a gadget and a stable internet connection, while a modular distance learning method provides printed materials to students called modules which they are required to study and answer corresponding assessment tests weekly.

At that time, Robredo said that they decided to branch out to such an initiative since her office’s call for donations for spare smartphones, tablets, laptops, or desktop computers for students and teachers prompted sectors to raise other concerns such as lack of electricity and internet connections.

Based on DepEd records, there are 800,000 DepEd employees, including the teachers, and 27 million students in basic and secondary education. — DVM, GMA News