Editorial: Sparking learning hubs in barangays

·3 min read

“It takes a village to educate our children.”

So lies the core of timeless wisdom in “The Barangay Learning Hubs Ordinance” filed by Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon during the regular session of the Cebu City Council on Oct. 6, 2021.

As reported by former reporter Wenilyn B. Sabalo in SunStar Cebu on Oct. 10, 2021, the ordinance defines the barangay learning hubs as “accessible centers” and “safe spaces” to support students in the community.

Nearly a year after Dizon proposed the ordinance, how are the 80 barangays in Cebu City faring in the establishment of a learning hub?

Although students from primary to undergraduate levels returned last August to phased stages of face-to-face learning, the barangay learning hub has not lost its timeliness and relevance.

The face-to-face mode of learning requires the supplementation of classroom and in-school inputs and interactions with the endless reserves of references, engagements, and insights channeled through new media.

Private schools may have computer laboratories, learning resource centers, and campus-wide internet connection. These advantages are scarce or insufficient in public schools with their higher enrolment.

The community lockdowns imposed during the peak of the pandemic led to widespread loss of livelihood and the exodus of private-school learners to more affordable public schools.

Since digital literacy ideally requires one learner to have intensive use of one computer and fast internet connection, schools’ digital literacy facilities require supplementation at home and in communities.

A barangay learning hub that offers free access to digital media will not just attract in-school learners but also out-of-school youth (OSY), workers, and retirees in the locality.

Public libraries are scarce in communities; a barangay learning hub helps to fill the chasm left by the absence of public libraries and communal shared spaces for learning.

Internet cafes meet the needs of citizens to email, search and apply for jobs on websites, research on topics of personal interest or need, such as understanding a medical condition or downloading forms and applying to avail of a government service or benefit.

Aside from being costly and crowded, internet cafes present risks to clients. Theft and holdups victimize internet café patrons, especially those who prefer to work at night or dawn because the internet lags less or the place is less crowded.

Predators also trawl to victimize the young, both in the physical and the digital spaces opened by internet cafés.

So “The Barangay Learning Hubs Ordinance” is a proactive move to promote digital literacy that arms a citizen to be vigilant and counter attempts at cyberbullying, online trafficking, Web pornography, online scams, disinformation, and other violations.

According to SunStar Cebu, Dizon’s ordinance proposes that barangay learning hubs are staffed by “caring adults,” and provide “additional services such as help or guidance from tutors or learning facilitators.”

Search engines open sites and content that harm a person in ways that are intended to deceive and manipulate the unwary.

Digital literacy also informs and empowers netizens to regulate their own perceptions, attitudes, and behavior to ensure each one contributes to make digital space a better, safer community for all.

For narrowing the digital divide at the grassroots through the activation of 14 barangay learning hubs out of the targeted 25, the City Government of Balanga, Bataan was recognized with the National Literacy Award for Component Cities in 2016 and the Hall of Fame Award in 2017, according to the Development Academy of the Philippines.

The Balanga learning hubs cater to communities from the coast to the uplands. Two hubs were given a Plaque of Recognition by the Department of Information and Communications Technology, according to coe-psp.dap.gov.ph

Can Cebu learn from the best practices of Balanga’s barangay learning hubs?