Ensuring Students in Central Sumba Continue Learning During the Pandemic

Global pandemic has affected various aspects of life, including in education sector. In Indonesia, President Joko Widodo conveyed on March 15, 2020 the policy of handling the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia. Among them are policies on the learning and working process from home, and improvement of COVID-19 testing and treatment services. “With this condition, it’s time for us to work from home, learn from home, worship at home, … We want this to become a community movement so that the COVID-19 issue can be handled optimally,” said President Joko Widodo.

Policies related to the teaching and learning process during the pandemic were issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture on March 24th through Circular Letter No. 4 of 2020 concerning the Implementation of Education Policy in the Emergency Spread of Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19). These policies include the implementation of learning activities from home (BDR) and the use of BOS funds to support BDR.

In the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, accessing online learning remains a challenge especially in areas with limited telecommunications and internet connectivity. In addition, teachers are yet to be prepared to facilitate distance learning in terms of both their capacity and learning media. In response to this challenge, the INOVASI program provides support for the provision of learning materials in the form of Student Worksheets (LKS), this is also to support offline learning for children who do not have access to internet.

The worksheets developed include a variety of materials that are the focus of the INOVASI program, namely Literacy, Numeration, Character Education, and Psychoeducation. It is expected the LKS can help improve children’s motivation in learning and help teachers as well as parents monitor children’s learning activities in their homes. In Central Sumba District, in East Nusa Tenggara, the LKS was distributed to 17 partner schools implementing the program. This LKS has encouraged teachers, especially from INOVASI partner schools such as SD Negeri Patembu in Central Sumba Regency of East Nusa Tenggara Province to continue teaching amid the pandemic. Among them is Rambu Yandri Djanga Praingu who received INOVASI trainings through Early Grade Literacy Program.

Upon receiving the LKS, this grade 2 teacher immediately distributed them to her students. She only has eight students in her class but her struggle to distribute the LKS was far from easy. Her students live far away from each other and their houses are approximately 2-8 kilometers from the school. To get to the school and come home, students have to get across two rivers. During rainy season, these rivers are often overflown, preventing students from going to school. Furthermore, most, if not all, of students’ homes can only be reached by crossing the rivers on foot which are said to be 30 meters wide.

Since April 25 2020, Yandri began delivering worksheets to the homes of her students. When she crossed one of the rivers, fortunately, a driver and a conductor of a sand truck who were sand-mining helped her to get across. Because of the limited telecommunications network, Yandri was unable to inform the students’ parents that she would deliver the LKS to their homes. Arriving at one of the students’ home, Yandri found nobody.

Knowing that it is now the season for rice planting in several areas in Central Sumba, Yandri took the initiative to look for her student in the rice fields. She thought it was likely that the student she was looking for was helping his parents weed the rice. Yandri’s guess was right. After some time searching, she finally found him in a field with his family. Yandri then explained the purpose of her coming as well as how to use the LKS she brought along.

Yandri admitted that what she did was very tiring. Especially because she had to travel long distance on foot. Motorized vehicles cannot reach the front of the student’s house because the roads in most parts are heavily damaged, not to mention there are rivers. However, seeing her students can learn using the worksheet brings joy and content to her heart. What Yandri did was purely voluntarily.

“It is indeed very far, I have to cross two rivers and have to find children in the rice fields. But seeing my students studying again after a while makes me happy. I can also discuss about students development with their parents, ” said Yandri feeling satisfied.

Ensuring Students in Central Sumba Continue Learning During the Pandemic