The Difficulties of Underprivileged Students to Learn Have Not Ended

During the Covid-19 pandemic, 50-56 percent of private schools experienced financial difficulties due to parents having difficulty paying tuition fees. The enforcement of an online learning system also makes students from underprivileged families despaired because they could not afford to access the internet.

Students from underprivileged families.
Illustration. Students from underprivileged families in their simple school. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, JAKARTA – The Covid-19 pandemic has had many negative impacts on education. Based on a report from the Indonesian Integrated Islamic School Network, in 2020, 50-55 percent of private schools experienced financial difficulties. This is the impact of parents who have difficulty paying the Education Development Contribution (SPP) due to financial constraints during the pandemic.

The Acting Director-General of Early Childhood Education, Primary and Secondary Education of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Hamid Muhammad, said around 60 percent of students in public and private schools asked that tuition fees reduce by 50 percent. "There is no problem with Public elementary and junior high schools because they do not pay tuition fees. However, both Senior and Vocational High schools should pay tuition fees," said Hamid.

The government policy in learning from home systems using smartphones and laptops via the internet is also considered burdensome for underprivileged students, and those who live in remote areas. They are students who face obstacles to access education even in normal conditions.

Based on a report from the Center For Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) Indonesia's topography, which is islands and mountains, requires the provision of internet and cellular telecommunications. However, 4G coverage is mostly concentrated on Java because cellular telecommunications service providers, which are highly market dependent, naturally prioritize urban areas over rural areas with smaller populations.

The sudden change from face-to-face in classrooms to distance learning at home also indicates the need for increased teacher capacity. Several studies compiled by CIPS show that the information, communication, and technology (ICT) competencies of Indonesian teachers are not evenly distributed across regions.

Moreover, there are gaps in the quality of education across regions in Indonesia, especially between Java and outside Java. Unequal internet access, gaps in teacher qualifications, quality of education, and a lack of ICT skills are vulnerabilities in distance learning initiatives in Indonesia.

Illustration. Learning Activities Center for the Community of Pesona Pulau Tegal, Pesawaran Regency, Lampung, holds teaching and learning in a center because school facilities are inadequate. (ACTNews)

The assistance provided by the government to support the distance learning system is not optimal, even when the Aksi Cepat Tanggap team met Meinita (37), the parents of two children who are still attending an elementary school in the Rawamangun area, East Jakarta. She said his son only received internet quota assistance for two months in 2020. After that, she no longer received any assistance for her son's distance learning.

"I have to spend more money to buy internet quota so that my child can continue to go to school, even though the family's economic condition is very poor. My husband and I were cut off from work due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Meinita. []