The Jakarta Post
The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced many institutions to switch to digital platforms to carry on with their work. Universities are no exception.
After holding lectures online for some time, two universities in Yogyakarta – Gadjah Mada University (UGM) and Yogyakarta Muhammadiyah University (UMY) – have decided move their compulsory community work (KKN) program online. Traditionally, the KKN program sends participating students to live on-site for about two months.
To comply with the government’s large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), UGM has created a customized program called COVID-19 Care Online KKN.
The latest batch of online KKN, which runs from May 4 to June 22, involves 354 students serving 18 villages in Yogyakarta province, Sleman regency, Kulonprogo regency, Gunungkidul regency and Yogyakarta city.
The 354 students are the sixth group of online KKN participants.
UGM community service director Irfan D. Prijambada said the pandemic had forced the university to come up with the new policy on KKN.
“It’s impossible to let the students stay in villages for two months,” he said in a recent statement.
Irfan added that students in KKN programs traditionally stayed in villages for two consecutive months. During the pandemic, however, they had been doing the service from their respective dormitories, rented rooms or houses.
“All of the students receive online supervision from their lecturers. The students provide services that involve education based on the condition of each village,” he added.
This year’s community service program has taken health resilience as its theme. Participating students are focusing on educating villagers about the prevention, handling and mitigation of COVID-19.
“[The students] are advised to disseminate correct information about the coronavirus, which is a part of our fight against hoaxes,” said Irfan, adding that the virtual KKN program would likely continue as Indonesia embraced a long fight against COVID-19.
So far, 4,300 UGM students have applied for the online KKN program.
Risma Sari Septianingrum, an UGM student in environmental geography, was supposed to participate in a regular KKN program from March 12 to April 30. She and 20 other students, were stationed in the Hargotirto and Hargowilis subdistricts of Kokap district, Kulonprogo regency, Yogyakarta. However, on the fifth day of their stay, the UGM rector required them to leave their KKN sites because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Risma said the online program was economical for KKN participants.
“It’s sad, however, that they cannot mingle with local people at the KKN sites like in the regular program,” she said. Risma is a volunteer in the university’s disaster response unit.
Supervising lecturer Dwi Umi Siswanti said the online KKN program had prevented students from face-to-face interactions.
“We assist the students by supervising their programs as well as [helping them] make maps, leaflets, posters, websites, pocket books and learning videos. Also, we provide them with learning assistance,” she said.
Similarly, UMY head of publication, research and community service Aris Slamet Widodo said the university had provided students joining this year’s KKN with an online program.
The program features community teaching and supervision for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“We are currently open for registration,” Aris told The Jakarta Post recently.