Educational facilities to reopen in early 2021

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Muhadjir Effendy. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – The Government’s plan to implement a “New Normal” policy will have broad effects on the people, especially in relation to the physical reactivation of the educational sector – such as our schools. The Government listened to the people’s concerns and stated that it is unsure when the educational sector can recommence optimal operations amid an enduring Corona pandemic (COVID-19). In other words, educational facilities will remain closed for an undetermined duration. “In comparison with the other sectors, schools are probably the last (to recommence),” said the Coordinating Minister of Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy in a discussion posted on the Ministry’s official website on Monday (01/06/2020). 

Muhadjir did not deny that earlier scenarios have postulated possible revival of educational facilities such as schools or colleges to operation at the end of this year or early next year, but these are still tentative plans. The Government’s initial plan was to reopen schools in mid-July, at the start of the new School Year. However, the Minister does not recommend that. After all, there is such a big risk relating to the impact that may occur with the new normal, the Government does not wish to rush the reopening of schools. “The Government is still calculating possible impact. The risks of reducing restrictions, let alone reopening the schools, are not easily calculable,” he said. 

Earlier, Legislative Representatives have expressed concerns about the Government’s plan to institute the new normal in education. Deputy Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat – “MPR”) of RI Ahmad Basarah stated that according to Indonesian Children’s Protection Commission (Komisi Perlindungan Anak Indonesia – “KPAI”)’s latest official data, 800 Indonesian children have been infected by COVID-19 as of the end of May 2020. “If online learning is still possible, the educational sector should not rush to follow new normal conditions,” he said. 

Similarly, the Chairman of the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”)’s Commission X Syaiful Huda also requested that the Government thoroughly considers any plan to reopen schools in the next School Year. “Such considerations include the position of schools in COVID zones, what health protocols should be implemented, and how to socialize these protocols in the field and evaluate them – everything must be clear,” Syaiful said in his written statement. 

Separately, Chairman of KPAI Susanto stated that Indonesia is a large country with a large number of educational institutions of various unique models, including pesantrens or Islamic boarding schools. Indonesia has 28,194 pesantrens with 18 million child santris (pesantren boarder students) watched over by 1.5 million teachers. Therefore, he also requests that the Government review the implementation of the new normal policy in the educational sector. 

Meanwhile, Speaker of DPR RI Puan Maharani stated that education amid the COVID-19 pandemic must be managed properly in order to avoid detriments to children’s health and development. “This is for the health of our children, our young generation,” she said. “The new normal protocol in schools must be implemented strictly. Naturally, health protocol for schools is quite different from protocols for malls, offices, and other public spaces.” 

As the State is striving to mitigate the pandemic, Puan states that the DPR helps by closely watching the National Educational budgets as per its budget monitoring rights. The DPR ensures that the budget for education is set at least at 20% of the State Budget according to the mandate of the Constitution of 1945. “DPR and Government has allocated IDR 4,014,724,000,000.00 for Operational Implementation Aid (Bantuan Operasional Penyelenggaraan – “BOP”) for Early Child Education in the State Budget for 2020,” she said. (Dan)