Believing that the Department of Education (DepEd) remains unprepared to provide quality education for all, Ang Probinsyano partylist Rep. Ronnie Ong has sought the setting up of more E-learning centers nationwide to address the shortage of gadgets and the lack of internet access among the public school students.
The partylist lawmaker said by now, the government should consider forging partnership with the private sector and the local government units (LGUs) to duplicate his group's “Frontrow E-skwela Hubs” program to address the supposed gaps in the DepEd's implementation of its “blended learning” system.
"Despite the two-month grace period that was allotted to fully prepare the educational system to transition from the traditional face-to-face learning to the so-called “blended learning,” the DepEd is still not fully equipped to carry out its mandate to provide quality education for all," he said in a statement.
He cited the need to create more E-learning centers nationwide, particularly in far-flung areas in preparation for the scheduled opening of classes for public elementary and secondary schools on October 5.
Ong was among those House members who sought the postponement of class opening from August to October.
The lawmaker cited that in partnership with the Frontrow Philippines, they already set up nine centers out of the targeted 25 E-Skwela Hubs.
The hubs are located in Baguio, Manila, Pasig, Danao and Tuburan in Cebu province, as well as the four municipalities of Poro, Pilar, Tudela, and San Francisco in the Camotes Islands.
"These E-Skwela Hubs are equipped with computers that are connected to the internet and printing machines which can be used to printout learning modules," Ong noted.
According to him, additional centers "are being readied" in Tondo and Sampaloc in Manila, in Valezuela City, La Union, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Norte, Pampanga, Batangas, Bacolod, Bohol, Eastern Samar, Ormoc, General Santos City, Surigao, Zambonga and Siargao.
“With the help of Frontrow Philippines, we are hoping to put up at least 16 more of these E-Skwela Hubs just to help bridge the gap of this obvious shortage in gadgets and the lack of internet access,” Ong said.
He said every barangay should have at least one E-learning center to ensure that education will be accessible to all students.
“We have been hoping that the DepEd would just declare this school year as a gap year since there is really no way that it could fully carry out this so-called blended learning considering the economic condition of many Filipinos especially now that we are in the middle of the corona virus pandemic,” Ong said.
“Since it was DepEd that was insistent that we resume classed despite the corona virus pandemic, its officials should use a bit of their imagination so that our students and teachers can have free access to computers and the internet,” he added.