DepEd clarifies Robredo's learning hubs OK, not face-to-face classes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 24) -- The Department of Education said it welcomes the Office of the Vice President's initiative to put up community learning hubs to help students amid the pandemic, but clarified it has neither struck a partnership with the OVP on the project nor approved of in-person classes.

The department issued the statement on Tuesday after Education Secretary Leonor Briones denied in a Malacañang briefing earlier in the day that she approved of the learning hubs arranged by Vice President Leni Robredo.

The DepEd said it distanced itself from Robredo's project in response to a news report which claimed the department has partnered with the OVP for limited physical classes.

"We are not privy to how the OVP has represented their initiative to media, and are responding only to the news item," the DepEd said. Earlier, OVP spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez pointed out that the hubs are not meant to be sites for face-to-face instruction, but a place to provide support and a conducive environment for students without access to resources, such as the internet.

Gutierrez also noted in a statement that Briones herself called the project "a good initiative." However, while the DepEd acknowledged welcoming the OVP's efforts, it said that it did so "in a general sense as [it] welcomes all support for learning continuity" and was "clearly not an agreement to a partnership."

Meanwhile, contrary to what the education secretary stated, Gutierrez added that apart from local government units, they have been coordinating with local DepEd divisions for the learning hubs.

"Ang nangyari ay ang OVP nag-coordinate directly with the LGUs," Briones said in the briefing. "So ang sitwasyon ngayon, halimbawa, sa Pasig, nag-coordinate sila directly with the LGU in Pasig pero one-on-one dahil hindi naman in-approve ng ating division superintendent iyon."

[Translation: What happened was the OVP directly coordinated with the LGUs. So the situation, for example in Pasig, was that they coordinated directly with the city government but only one-on-one because our Division Superintendent did not approve their proposal.]

According to Gutierrez, there are currently 11 active hubs put up by the OVP to serve over 2,000 learners in Luzon and the Visayas. Strict compliance to health protocols is being followed, he added.

The government has rejected face-to-face classes to protect the students and teachers the from risk of contracting COVID-19. The DepEd said that the reintroduction of face-to-face classes will require approval by the President given the public health considerations.