Indonesia: As the school year begins, UNICEF and Ministry of Education call on schools to make sure children and adolescents keep learning

21 July 2020
 Joaquin participates in an online learning activity at home.
UNICEF Indonesia/2020/Sumule
8-year-old Joaquin participates in an online learning activity at home. “I can still connect with my teachers while learning at home. If I have difficulty with the assignments from school, I can reach out to them and ask for help.”

Jakarta, Indonesia 21 July 2020 – As the new school year begins in Indonesia, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Culture call for schools across the country to ensure that children and adolescents are able to learn in the best possible conditions wherever they are—whether they are learning from home or at school.

Noting that the health and safety of all students, teachers and their families is a priority, the Minister of Education and Culture Nadiem Anwar Makarim encouraged all parties to ensure that learning continues for students living in the green zones, who can start face-to-face learning under strict health protocols, as well as those living in yellow, orange and red zones, who have to continue learning from home.

“We encourage meaningful learning without the burden of having to complete curriculum targets. Now is the right moment to conduct learning experiments in every class. Teachers, parents and students need to collaborate to find the most suitable learning method based on their specific situation. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to overcome the challenges of emergency learning," said Nadiem.

At the end of the previous school year, some 60 million school-aged children and adolescents across Indonesia had to learn from home due to COVID-19. As the country continues to respond to COVID-19, the vast majority of children and adolescents in primary and secondary institutions will need to continue learning from home while safe school measures are being put in place.

“It is crucial that all children and adolescents continue to have access to the vital services offered through schools. Despite all the challenges this pandemic brings, we must continue to defend every child’s and adolescent’s right to learn,” said UNICEF Representative Debora Comini.

Learning from home takes a lot of commitment, and it is crucial that parents and teachers help children and adolescents to study effectively despite the challenges. While many children and adolescents have access to online learning platforms, schools should also provide offline options, and make material available for download and offline use. Teachers and parents should communicate with each other regularly to ensure the progress of learning is well monitored.

Even though the majority of children and adolescents continue to study at home, some schools located in green zones are eligible to open, provided they meet certain criteria. School management should work with local governments to ensure that health and safety measures are established before the school is opened. Once approval is granted, each school must ensure that staff and students strictly follow safety protocols: handwashing with soap, maintaining a distance of 1.5 meters from each other and wearing a mask. When the school day is finished, students are strongly recommended to go straight home rather than joining other activities that might expose them to the greater risks of Covid-19.

Past experiences have shown that the longer children and adolescents remain out of school, the less likely they are to ever return. Also, when vulnerable children and adolescents are out of school for long periods, they become more vulnerable to violence, child labour and child marriage. Prolonged school closure may also affect children’s and adolescent’s mental health and socio-emotional well-being. 

Schools provide much more than just academic learning. For many students, when the classrooms are closed, they lose their routine, time with their friends, meals, access to health and nutrition services, and the safety that school provides for them.

“Millions of children and adolescents, particularly those living in rural areas, from poorer families or with special needs, rely on schools as a lifeline to meals, support in times of distress, health screenings and therapeutic services,” said Debora Comini. “When schools are closed, their lifeline to these services is taken away.”

All children and adolescents should be reminded to follow prevention behaviours: to wear a mask, keep a distance and wash hands frequently, especially when arriving at school, before and after meals, and upon returning home. Any of them who feels unwell should stay home and seek medical advice if symptoms worsen. 

All parents and children as well as adolescents must seek out the educational options available to them by contacting their local school.

Media Contacts

Kinanti Pinta Karana
Communications Specialist
UNICEF Indonesia
Tel: +62 8158805842

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