COVID-19 Op-ed

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

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

The 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 freedoms.


 World 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 Home (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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