School Reopening: Opportunity versus Threat?

The Joint Decree of 4 Ministers concerning Guidelines for the Implementation of Learning in the Covid-19 Pandemic Period states that schools will reopen in the new school year in July 2021. The plan to open this school begins with the priority of vaccination for teaching staff imposed by the government. How should we view this face-to-face learning endeavor: is it an opportunity or a threat?

An assessment conducted by Gugah Nurani Indonesia found that some of our sponsored children in Medan and Deli Serdang coverage area did not study more than 14 days a month. This survey was conducted in February 2021 and involved 200 sponsored children from elementary, middle and high school levels. A total of 174 children admitted that they did not study more than 14 days a month. This means that these children participate in distance learning for only 10 days a month. This condition is even worse than the results of our assessment conducted in September 2020. At that time, of the 125 children participating in distance learning, 70.40% or 88 children admitted to having been absent. Gugah Nurani Indonesia sees that the longer distance learning lasts, the lower the level of children's participation in the learning process.

Learning loss and children’s future.
Michelle Kaffenberger from the University of Oxford - UK said learning loss will cause huge losses in the future if it is not anticipated. The calculation of the loss model due to global learning loss conducted by Carmen Belafi and Michelle Kaffenberger (2020) shows that major learning loss occurs at the elementary school level. Grade 3 elementary school students who miss studying for 6 months have the potential to be 1.5 years behind. Meanwhile, students in grade 1 SD if they do not study at the same time, their learning ability will be lost for up to 2.2 years.

It was further explained that in the long term this decline in learning ability would cause economic and social problems. Students who miss 1.5 years of learning opportunities will lose 15% of their income as adults. Meanwhile, students who lose the opportunity to study for 2 years will lose 20% of their income as adults.

Looking through school reopening as an opportunity.
The Minister of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia together with 3 other Ministers issued a 4 Ministerial Decree that allows local governments to carry out face-to-face learning. It is hoped that the opportunity for children to be able to study intensively will be greater, and their learning abilities can return to normal.

The readiness of the government, schools, and parents plays an important role in preparing children to return to school. The opening of schools is not carried out solely considering health protocols to guarantee child safety. It is also important to assess and restore children's learning abilities.

In response to this condition, Gugah Nurani Indonesia is also preparing teachers at our assisted schools in Belawan II, North Sumatra Province, to manage learning during the new school year. Gugah Nurani Indonesia provides assistance to teachers to assess and restore children's learning abilities, as well as encourage school principals to be able to carry out strict supervision until students can return to normal learning according to their competencies.

Gugah Nurani Indonesia conducted training for teachers in 9 Primary School and 5 Middle School in Medan CDP on Active Learning which aims teachers to be able to make student worksheets that ignite children's learning creativity, both in online learning and later face-to-face. This training also designed to increase teacher’s capacity in choosing a curriculum oriented to essential and prerequisite competencies, namely literacy, numeracy and character, as well as how to conduct simple assessments in identifying children's learning abilities after school reopening.

Multi-party collaboration.
The effort in school reopening is a multi-stakeholder responsibility. Multi-party collaboration needs to be done. In addition to the efforts above, what also important to be prepared is how this face-to-face learning plan can ensure that children learn well according to their competencies in the midst of the new normal.

Writer: Anwar Suhut, Medan CDP Manager
This article was published in a complete version at Harian Analisa, June 2021.

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