COVID-19 Op-ed

A Paradigm Shift in Learning: Shaping Students for the New Normal

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Muhammad AsfaniTeacher,
Public High School No. 37, Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesian government took steps to respond to the pandemic by setting
strategic regulations to protect the citizens from infections, such as
physical distancing and restricted movement. Similar to socio-economic and
peace & order measures, policy in the world of education also did not
go unchanged. The Ministry of Education and Culture issued two policies at
once. First was Circular Letter No. 2 of 2020 on Preventing and Handling of
Covid-19, followed by the Circular Letter No. 3 of 2020, which settled down
guidance on steps to prevent the rise of Covid-19 in schools and other
educational units.

Given orders to help mitigate the pandemic, all
regional heads directed to close down educational institutions in an attempt
to contain the spread of the disease. Teachers and students are expected to
carry out learning activities at home within a specific timeframe set by the
government. This expectation means that everyone has to set aside traditional
ways of teaching and learning immediately. This reality has forced teachers
like me and students to undergo a crash course in maximing existing
technologies to comply with the new policy.In many respects, the education
sector’s shift to remote instruction rhymes with the work-from-home policies
in enterprises. Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and WebEx are being
used heavily, as are learning management systems like Instructor’s Canvas and
Google Classroom. Apart from attending online classes, teachers have been
obliging their students to accomplish assignments more frequently and submit
them more rapidly.The National Child Protection Commission (KPAI) reported on
213 students complaining about distance learning. Students frequently
expressed major frustrations with online classes. Most complaints pertain to
assignments that they are pressured to accomplish well. In addition, students
protested against required tasks and the limited time allotted to finish
them. They suddenly became overwhelmed by requirements given by their
teachers.Parents are often confused and surprised by increased amount of
homework. They now think that “distance learning” is far less fun
and meaningful. They also felt that they are now given the responsibility to
monitor the performance of their children. This is on top of the fact that
many learners are also assuming domestic responsibilities on top of complying
with academic requirements.Based on these, it is imperative to veer away from
conventional performance indicators and focus more on ways to build one’s
ability and character. Students need to get enough stock to be able to attain
good mental endurance. Lessons should also focus on shaping and strengthening
one’s resilience, sense of empathy, and sense of purpose amid trying times.As
we gear towards the new normal of learning, the government should be
compelled to tackle burdens students face in light of online learning. It
should respond to realities and limitations  faced by the learners amid
Covid-19 and, perhaps, what the new normal entails. As an educator, I believe
that the main goal of education is to develop learners that are resilient
enough to withstand crises and be able to address challenges effectively.
This is the key to achieving an Indonesian society, which is respectful of
each one’s strengths and weaknesses, and of human rights and


Health Organization (WHO). (2020, March 15)situation-reports.
(Accessed April 18, 2020)Detik.(2020, April 26). Kapan Sebenarnya Korona
Masuk RI?.
(Accessed April 27, 2020)Detik. (2020. April 13) 213 Students
Complain to KPAI While Studying at Home, There is a question ‘The Heavy Duty’
(Accessed April 18, 2020)Bebas Kompas. (2020, March 26) Joy of Learning at
(Accessed April 18, 2020)Nasional Kompas. (2020, March 2) Corona’s Positive
Case in Indonesia Revealed from Japanese Citizens’ Phones
(Accessed April 18, 2020)  

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