Written By : Intan Realista Zanta Avhisa – Sekolah Sungai Program Manager
The contagious virus, COVID-19, had struck severely almost every country without exception. The major sectors to support basic human life could not be avoided to get impacted significantly since the appearance of the outbreak in the end of the year 2019. Education is definitely the sector that encounter unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced that more than 850 million students around the world, or about half of all students, have been forced to stay at home. The students are deprived of education due to the prolonged widespread cases.
The first positive case confirmed on March 2, 2020 in Indonesia led to the changes on the education system afterwards, as a respond to stop the spread of the pandemic. The Ministry of Education had declared some adjustments on face to face into online learning. The policy was also highlighting the cancellation of the national and semester exams and its possible substitution. The teacher and school are proposed to present the education on the awareness on the coronavirus among the students for the nonce. It was such an ideal answer to fight against the pandemic for education sector so that it was not stopped at all. Though the online learning continues the existence of education, it also reveals our inability to protect vulnerable community maximally and emboldens the social gaps at the moment.
Well-established schools located in urban area may adjust to the online learning quickly without meaningful obstacle since it becomes one of their daily approach to support the learning. Meanwhile, schools with minimum facilities located in rural area surely struggle to inform and conduct the shift from face to face into online learning. The accessibility of the online learning is also questionable though the Indonesia’s Internet users is in the fifth rank worldwide. There are still students who could not access online learning to catch up with the current education system out there. The parents who work as blue collar worker that were fired because of the pandemic obviously choose to buy food for their family’s survivability than credits for the children to follow the online learning. This becomes a huge problem, since in this pandemic, they do not have their face to face learning as one and only accessible way to pursue education. Students are forced to stay at home and lost their opportunity to get appropriate education. For some students, online learning is a perfect solution while other students could not even enjoy the solution given due to their unfortunate conditions.
The difficulties also occurred on the practice of the online learning. Online learning had been applied for quite a long time ago, but the challenges now lay on immense implementations throughout the country. It is used in all schools, all subjects and all-day. Many complaints from the students and parents to the unbearable tasks, deadline, and schedules are expressed every day. This shows the unpreparedness of Indonesia’s curriculum to be shifted into online learning. Some of the students were not accustomed to an independent learning process which becomes the important key of the online learning. The process of the learning is way more difficult for the student to develop in the current situation. Teachers and schools are also struggling to give the best contribution to the online learning through limited trainings and capacity.
The assistance of the schools and teachers in the learning is absence, which requires the replacement of the roles to the parents or guardian to ensure the process of the online learning. However, in the condition of the pandemic, this should be really analyzed on any possible scenario where the parents and guardian could be absence too. The parents may be busy to fulfil basic necessity to survive than accompanying their children to study. Some students may live with their grandparents which too old to utilize technology. In addition, not all students especially primary students are in the capacity to be an independent learner and able to operate the tool to access online learning by themselves. These circumstances are possibly to be happened and they become the most vulnerable victim of the situation.
I am not saying Indonesia should stop the online learning due to some inefficiency of this policy. The policy should be appreciated as a direct respond to the pandemic. This is more to be a reminder for everyone in the education sector to keep looking for comprehensive solutions for the vulnerable communities to get access on education in the current condition. Students should learn how to be an independent learners, teacher must equip themselves to more online teaching strategy and government should be aware of the impact of each policy especially to the vulnerable communities. Knowing the fact that the similar situation possibly happens and it could force the students to stay at home anymore, therefore, our struggle does not stop when the pandemic is over.