The Jakarta Post
Regions across the country have postponed the national exam and ordered students to study from home amid the government’s call for people to practice social distancing in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Six provinces have postponed the national exam for vocational high schools, initially slated to be held from Monday to Thursday. Five regions – Jakarta, Banten, West Java, Central Java, Bali and Riau – have completely postponed the exams. Meanwhile, East Kalimantan held the first day of exams on Monday, but halted the remaining days.
On the other hand, nearly 7,600 of 13,691 vocational high schools in 28 other provinces decided to go ahead with the national exam as scheduled, National Education Standardization Agency (BSNP) head Abdul Mu’ti said.
“As many as 752,911 out of 1,546,932 vocational high school students [across the country] participated in the national exam today,” Abdul told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
He added that the ongoing national exam would still follow the initial standard operating procedure.
The decision regarding the national exam for regular senior high schools, scheduled to be held from March 30 to Apr. 2, would depend on the development of the current situation, Abdul went on to say.
Several regional administrations have shut schools and encouraged students to study at home, such as Jakarta, Central Java’s Surakarta and West Java’s Bandung. The decision was made following the government’s call for social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease.
“We support the policy [to shut schools down] made by regional administrations,” Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim said on Sunday, as quoted by Antara. “The ministry is ready to support all possible scenarios, including the implementation of long-distance learning.”
The ministry has developed an Android-based application called Rumah Belajar (Home Study), which can be downloaded from the ministry’s website belajar.kemdikbud.go.id. It provides learning materials, digital classes, an online laboratory and question bank for students of early childhood education, elementary and high schools.
The ministry’s early childhood and community education director general Harris Iskandar said regional administrations and schools had been ordered to be proactive and creative in delivering learning materials to students at home.
"Some schools report that students are being given reading assignments and homework. Meanwhile, teachers will monitor their process regularly," he said.
Students, however, said studying at home might be a challenge for them as some could not focus on their subjects.
Ketut Dewi Gayatri Wahini, 17, a student of SMA 1 Singaraja state senior high school in Bali, has spent two weeks at home since her school was shut down over COVID-19 fears. She said she had struggled to study through the long-distance learning approach.
"I feel sleepy all the time and can't keep my focus when studying online at home," she told the Post.
“When I can’t solve some math problems, my teacher helps me through text messages. However, I still struggle to understand the answer,” she went on to say, adding that she preferred direct interaction with teachers to study.
She was echoed by 17-year-old Mohammad Rafi Bagasfaranda, a student of Muhammadiyah senior high school in Sidoarjo, East Java. He said he was always distracted when learning at home for the last two weeks.
"There is always a temptation to play games. [...] I am not sure if the teachers would monitor my study at home," he said.
Both students said they were feeling uptight about the national exam, whether their respective school would decide to postpone it or not. (trn)