Pandemic and the State of Education in Papua

Pandemic and the State of Education in Papua – The Covid-19 pandemic has hit nearly the entire world, icluding Papua. This condition has a serious impact on people’s life, including the education sector, which is at the present remains to be a serious problem, in Papua. The presence of the special authority through Regulations Number 21 of 2001 on Special Autonomy for Papua which also regulates the education sector does not point any significant signs of progress.

Based on data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) in 2019, the Human Development Index (HDI) of Papua Province has only reached 60.84. Meanwhile, the HDI of West Papua Province reached 64.7. This condition is still far below the national HDI which reached 71.92. The same condition can also be seen from the achievement of the Length School Expectation (HLS) which only reached 10.83 years for Papua and 12.53 years for West Papua.

The geographic conditions of the various regions and the lack of availability of infrastructure have made people in some areas difficult to access education services. 

This condition is also exacerbated by the fact of the lack schools and no teachers present to teach in mountainous areas. Meanwhile, at relatively developed regions, the availability of schools and teachers has not been balanced by an increasing of the quality of education. School subject matter is also so far away below the national average standard.

Quoting the study of the Papua Task Force of UGM (2016), there are several general problems of education in Papua, including: 1) Lack of public awareness of the importance of education; 2) The awareness of sending their children to school tends only to parents who are educated or work in the formal sector; 3) The availability and affordability of schools is still highly low. Schools only exist in the city or regency capital. Meanwhile, in the districts and inland villages it is still very rare and even non-existent at all; 4) The current education has more theory or knowledge that is not directly needed by the society.

New Challenge                                                                                                  

The world is currently experiencing technological, socio-cultural and environmental changes globally so that the education sector must be prepared to recognize the such changes.

The presence of the Covid-19 pandemic has also boosted to very rapid structural changes. Education around the world must be able to adapt to the latest changes of learning models without decreasing the essence of the learning process itself. The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has also provided new normality in the realm of education in Indonesia with the use of modern technology, including in Papua. However, Papua’s condition is still hurdled by the limitations of electricity, internet and gadgets detaining the teaching and learning activities.

Head of the Regional Education, Library and Archives Office of Papua Province, Christian Sohilait, on July 20, 2020 said that online learning can only be done by 48% of students in Papua. Apart from network barriers, the low capacity of teachers and students for operating smartphones is also a problem. Meanwhile, there are teachers or students who could be hindered by the availability of gadgets. Hopefully education in Papua to maintain to rise amidst the downfall in the pandemic era.

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