Indonesian Teachers Association: Many Teachers Died of Coronavirus During Pandemic

During the pandemic, many teachers have died from Covid-19. They have to risk their lives to teach the students directly because the infrastructure for online learning isn’t ready.

Illustration. Teacher in West Manggarai teaches his students in August 2019. (ACTNews/Gina Mardani)

ACTNews, SOUTH JAKARTA – The Covid-19 pandemic has killed many teachers. This bitter truth was told by the Chairperson of the Executive Board of the Indonesian Teachers Association (PB PGRI) Unifah Rosyidi in the Webinar titled "Looking for the Best for Indonesian Education in the Era of Pandemic: Face to Face or Staying Online?" in June 2021.

Unifah said that many teachers had made their sacrifice to keep doing face-to-face learning because not all regions in Indonesia have adequate infrastructure for online learning.

"One thing that the media never tells us is that many teachers have passed away during the pandemic because they have to keep teaching," said Unifah in the webinar.

They must visit the students’ houses to teach, through difficult terrain, dense jungle, and even the waves of the sea.

“Actually, what we call online distant learning is only ready in big cities. In remote areas of the country, there is no distant learning. They’ll do everything to teach the students, including visiting their houses and sailing through the strong waves of the sea,” she added.

In addition to teaching, Unifah continued, many teachers still have to come to their schools to sign in while they are unvaccinated. "There are a lot of reports about this," she said.

Teacher’s welfare deteriorates

Due to the high risk of contracting COVID-19, many schools are not open for learning activities, and this has affected the income of honorary teachers in Indonesia.

In Morawa of Sigi Regency, for instance, the payment of honorary teacher salaries is often postponed indefinitely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A similar condition is experienced by an honorary teacher in Bogor. Nurifatul has to borrow money from a neighboring shop to eat because the payment of her salaries as a teacher is irregular.

Teachers’ side businesses have also been impacted by the global outbreak. An honorary teacher in Subang, Badriah, had her shop closed because her business turned quiet. For additional income, she opens a private tutoring service for students. []