Let’s hope this doesn’t spread into a pandemic

J. Soedradjad Djiwandono
J. Soedradjad Djiwandono, Is an Indonesian economist who was Governor of Bank Indonesia, the nation’s central bank, in 1993. Djiwandono received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Gadjah Mada University in 1963 and went on to receive a Ph.D. from Boston University in 1980. He is a professor at S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University since 2002 until today.

IO – Introduction 

I was surprised, saddened, and concerned when I read a report from the US National Education Association on January 6, 2022, which stated that 55% of teachers desire to leave the profession sooner than they expected. The percentage of Black Americans was 69%, Hispanics 65%, and the national average was 55%. According to several studies, a similar trend appears to be occurring in the United Kingdom and Australia. Let’s hope the survey results are incorrect. Even if they were, let us hope this does not happen in our region, particularly in Indonesia. 

As a teacher, I had a bad experience last year when I taught two courses at RSIS, both of which were fully attended by students. The problem was not with the lectures, which were excellent, but with the processing of the class assignments. In each course, I required students to write two term papers, one to be submitted in the middle of the semester and the other at the end. I had no idea that teaching online required more time from the teacher than teaching in person. Unfortunately, I became ill at the end of the term and I made a small mistake in grading the student papers. I gave a B to a paper that with my written comments on the paper I would normally gage an A-. The problem was that the student protested, not just to me but also formally to school. The school had the obligation to follow the procedure to ask me to make correction, reporting to the University Administration, and what not. That was the problem I experienced. It hurt me to be honest, but what to do. My only resolve was that I told the school that from now on I will not accept to teach two courses in a term, just one course in each term. And I will start this way to avoid future problem just in case the pandemic will not go away anytime soon. In other words, I could fully understand the feeling of those teachers wanting to quit teaching sooner than planned. 

Again, it is not too complicated for a university professors to do what I told the school of doing. But it will not be easy for teachers in elementary, secondary, and high schools to do this. So, it was shocking to me reading the report, however I could fully understand why 55 per cents of teachers deciding that way. 

Perhaps the United States and other countries that are witnessing this development must realize that this is part of the societal penalty that the COVID-19 pandemic, with all of its forms that are now wreaking havoc on the planet, must bear. 

It all depends on us regarding how to deal with this particular social cost. Indonesia is not, hopefully, confronted with this development. Of course, I do not know much about the conditions of how teachers in Indonesia see these issues. I could only hope that we will not have to deal with these issues here, even if there are other issues which may need to be addressed by the Ministry of Education. We could only hope that should these issues arise the authorities responsible for them are not taken by surprised. 

Final notes 

I hope I am not picking up irrelevant issues and sound like crying wolf here. Otherwise, like in other aspects of development if we also actually face the same issues the cost to our society, to our future generation would be enormous for sure. 

On a more positive note let us hope that the dedication of all Indonesian teachers at all levels of schooling are solid and better than those in other countries. I would for sure prefer to be accused of unnecessarily scared of something farfetched than being right in this issue.