KPAI Commissioner for Education: “Ministry of Education and Culture should drive the New Normal in education”

KPAI Commissioner for Education, Retno Listyarti. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – After a lot of pros and cons concerning online education, the idea to allow schools, specifically those located in COVID-19 green areas, to restart traditional learning is being discussed. In response, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (Komisi Perlindungan Anak Indonesia – “KPAI”) Commissioner for Education Retno Listyarti has urged the Ministry of Education and Culture to not rush reopening schools just yet. KPAI surveys show that the majority of our schools are not ready to implement the New Normal required to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

A survey of 15 Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools, and Vocational Schools in Jakarta, Bogor, Bekasi, Tangerang, South Tangerang, and Bandung City in June has revealed that only one of the surveyed schools is completely ready with the required infrastructure for the New Normal. Only 20% out of the 6,664 teachers from different schools who responded to the survey are ready to implement the New Normal. 

Retno believes that the Ministry of Education and Culture should be the driving force for preparing the implementation of the New Normal in education, i.e. by preparing the necessary health protocol and checklists for submission to all Educational Offices in the regions. When they receive the health protocol checklists, the Educational Offices can perform graduated coordinating meetings, starting with the Ministry of Education and Culture meeting Heads of Regional Educational Offices, conferences of Heads of Educational Offices and principals, and finally, between principals and teachers. “Homeroom teachers will then socialize the protocols to all the students under their charge and their parents,” she said in a written statement on Tuesday (28/07/2020). 

Retno states that none of these efforts have been undertaken so far. Considering the current pandemic, the Ministry of Education and Culture cannot reopen schools without proper measures. “How will the Ministry reopen the schools in different zones (green, yellow, orange, and red) when they have no data whatsoever at school level? Policies should be based on actual data, not on trial and error! Especially since this is about the health and safety of Indonesian children! Don’t try things out on children. As a mother, I sincerely hope that the Government will delay the advent of the new school year – or at least, extend online learning from home. This is to prevent our children, our nation’s heirs, from losing their lives while we make peace with COVID-19. This will also reduce the rate of increase for COVID Persons under Surveillance and Patients under Surveillance,” she said. 

Separately, Global Health Security epidemiologist Dr. Dicky Budiman M.Sc., P.H., Ph.D. (Cand.) suggests that the Government refrain from reopening schools until the situation has clearly improved. Reopening now would be very risky, as it might actually unleash a Second Wave of Corona virus infection. A study published by Sara, et al. in 2012 shows that all schools should close when 0.1% of the population suffers from an illness. If schools continue to close down during the pandemic, the level of clinical attack can be lowered to below 50%. Dr. Dicky states that the New Normal includes motivation and awareness to wear masks, reduce mobility and otherwise maintain health and safety in schools. (Dan)