The Jakarta Post
Thousands of of Gadjah Mada University (UGM) students in Yogyakarta participated in the seventh wave of the university’s virtual compulsory community work (KKN) program, which focuses on helping local communities face the so-called new normal period.
The KKN program started on Monday, with 4,505 students participating in the virtual community work to assist 263 villages until Aug. 18. This is the seventh batch of participants in UGM's virtual KKN program, with the first batch being sent in March.
Traditionally, the KKN program sends participating students to live on-site for about two months. However, due to the pandemic, the students can only do community services from their respective dormitories, rented rooms or houses.
UGM rector Panut Mulyono said the KKN program, which aimed to develop the students' understanding of problems in local communities, had to be done online to prevent further COVID-19 transmission between the participating students and the communities.
“We don’t want to halt students’ study progress, while also taking into consideration the health and safety factors,” said Panut.
Separately, the university’s community service director Irfan Priyambada said the students applied several themes to their community work, such as promoting a healthy lifestyle, developing tourism in villages, strengthening people’s finances and preparing village communities ahead of the so-called new normal period.
The students will be supervised by 178 lecturers and 16 regional coordinators virtually.
“They have also received a briefing on online platforms for farmers, waste management as well as online village development planning,” Irfan said in a statement.
Salsabila Ramadhani, a student of the university’s School of Engineering, said she appreciated the university for holding the program online due to the danger of the coronavirus disease.
“I don’t want to lose time. We don’t know when the pandemic will come to an end,” Salsabila said. “This [the virtual KKN program] is for the best of all.”
Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim, who spoke at the KKN inauguration ceremony, appreciated UGM for the innovation, which was important in protecting the health of the students as well as local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While praising various themes chosen by the program participants to assist the community in facing the pandemic, Nadiem urged the students to help teach elementary school students who face difficulties in learning due to the outbreak.
“I hope students of UGM and students from other universities help elementary school students to study from their respective homes by becoming their mentors,” the minister said.