Challenges of Online Learning in the Outermost Island of Indonesia

Diana Mariska
A Student During Online Learning in Pamekasan, East Java.
A Student During Online Learning in Pamekasan, East Java. - Amid the ongoing battle with poor infrastructures and facilities, teachers in the more rural regions in Indonesia struggle to deliver quality education. One example is in Simeulue Island, Aceh, where teachers find it hard to offer objective assessment to students as learning activities are still carried out online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s difficult to make an objective assessment to our students as learning is carried out online and not in-person,” Herawati, principal in a local elementary school in Simeulue, said on Thursday, November 25.

Poor internet connection in the area is cited as one of the obstacles for online learning because both teachers and students face similar limitations.

To make matter worse, a number of students also don’t have the much-needed device to assist their learning process. Eventually, these students ended up not taking part in online learning.

Visiting students at their homes is actually an option considered by the teachers, but limited resources make it not possible.

“If we want to make house visits, we don’t have the sufficient budget. In fact, we only contract teachers with very limited salaries,” Herawati said.

Another teacher in Simeulue Regency Syarifah said making the objective assessment is particularly difficult for her since she doesn’t see the learning process in which her students go through daily.

“Some students get an average grade during in-person class, but when it’s online, they get a better grade. We don’t know whether they finish the tasks themselves or if they get help,” the teacher admitted.

Despite the obstacles, Syarifah said all teachers remain committed to conducting the learning activities, whether it’s online or in-person, during the pandemic. She emphasized the importance of continuing education, particularly for people in the outer and underdeveloped regions like Simeulue Island.

“There are a number of hurdles related to teaching in Simeulue in addition to a limited internet connection. For example, the poor transportation where some of us must get into a motorboat to cross the Indian Ocean for two hours,” she said.

Simeulue Regency is part of Aceh Province, the westernmost province in Indonesia, and it occupies the Simeulue Island. It’s the outermost region of the Province, and it continues to suffer from a lack of equal development. It lacks the advanced infrastructure for telecommunication, hence the notoriously poor internet connection.

And the problem gets highlighted during the pandemic as most activities are carried out online. Antara reported in July that people even had to climb trees to get better internet connections for school, civil servant recruitment, among others.

Tag # education # aceh # pandemic # school # covid19

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