The Alliance for the Education and Safety of Children (APKA) had sent a legal notice to Indonesian President, Joko Widodo. This notice addresses the implementation of face-to-face learning (PTM) which has violated a number of regulations.
This Alliance, consisting of eight institutions, had also sent a legal notice to the Minister of Health, Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology, Minister of Home Affairs, and Minister of Religion. The notice was issued on Friday (3/9/2021).
The eight institutions that the alliance consists of include Arek Lintang (ALIT) Indonesia, AMAR Law Firm & Public Interest Law Office (AMAR), Forum Aksi Guru Indonesia (FAGI), Forum Orang Tua Siswa (Fortusis), Hakasasi, Laporcovid19, Lokataru, and Surabaya Children Crisis Center (SCCC).
This legal notice was created due to the new PTM policy, involving students, teachers, and school staff from varying areas, being carried out with the permission of related ministries but without the consideration of the fact that the numbers of child vaccinations are still low. In fact, the policy does not stipulate any requirements concerning mandatory vaccination for students who take part in PTM. The only condition for conducting PTM is the consent of the parents of students.
Alghiffari Aqsa, from AMAR Law Firm & Public Interest Law Office (AMAR), stated that ensuring the best interests of children is an important principle in fulfilling children’s rights. During the pandemic, children’s health is much more important than learning face-to-face. “The government must guarantee that the quality of distance learning is maintained throughout the pandemic and while positivity rates of Covid-19 are still high.” he said.
Yemiko Happy, representing LaporCovid19, stated that although it was conducted in areas that has implemented Community Activities Restrictions Enforcement (PPKM) level 1 to 3, face-to-face learning has the potential to cause problems because it is carried out in the midst of uncontrolled transmissions of Covid-19 and relatively low vaccination rates.
Rather than innovating ways to tackle the dilemmas of distance learning, Kemendikbudristek considers face-to-face learning to be the final solution for problems concerning education in Indonesia. This situation is further exacerbated by unclear policies, weak coordination and synergy between policy actors, and an educational infrastructure that is inadequate in dealing with disasters.
LaporCovid19 argues that, at the regulatory level, the government must prepare an education roadmap that is capable of adapting to situations of disasters. Education must be prioritized as much as how the government prioritizes the other sectors during the control of this pandemic. Schools should only be opened when positivity rates drop below 5%. “This builds awareness among students and parents of students that face-to-face learning is not only about online learning,” he said.
The Executive Director of Surabaya Children Crisis Center (SCCC), Edward Dewaruci, stated that the government is not consistent with the policies that they made. In regards to students, it is better to wait until all areas are considered as green zones and have PPKM levels of 0, unlike how it is now. “This decision feels very hastily made. Why is it so hard to follow the advice of health professionals? Why take chances with our children? The regret will come after it is already too late.” he said.
In accordance with Edward, the Executive Director of the Arek Lintang Indonesia foundation, Yuliati Umrah, also believed that the government was reckless in creating this policy. PTM should consider all risks, especially for children. “Especially, no one under the age of 12 has been vaccinated. Many of those who are aged 13-15 have yet to be vaccinated. This is considered to be a reckless act,” she said.
According to Yuli, children are highly vulnerable due to two things. Firstly, their immune system; secondly, the development of their body. Such vulnerabilities always follow childrens’ development stage.
“Adults should have already considered this issue. Even if it is demanded by parents because children are bored with online learning, the solution should not be to massively opening schools, even if it applies to 50%. It cannot be guaranteed that students would not gather and visit other places after school all the while keeping their masks off. Why not encourage the emergence of classes in small communities in every area such as neighbourhoods for 5-10 people each, supervised by an assistant teacher who can help become a tutor for the community. Then, children can continue to socialize but under the supervision of adults in the area,” said Yuli.
The Chairperson of Fortusis, Dwi Subawanto, said that as long as vaccinations for children are not accelerated, it is better for the government to stop the PTM policy. Especially for children under the age of 12 who have yet to become a target group for vaccinations.
The government is obligated to improve the quality of online learning. According to Wanto, this should not be something new for Indonesia. “Open University (UT) had been running for years. Why not learn from there? Their modules, teaching capacities, and infrastructure can be adopted,” he said.
Iwan Hermawan, from Forum Aksi Guru Indonesia (FAGI), stated that the implementation of PTM is susceptible to creating new problems. Much effort is required to ensure that health protocols run smoothly. Schools should conduct periodic checks for teachers. “Don’t be careless in a situation like this, it would still be dangerous even if only one child got infected,”
Haris Azhar, from Lokataru, said that the government had violated at least five regulations, including UU No. 20 of 2003 concerning National Education System, UU No. 36 of 2009 concerning Health, UU No. 6 of 2018 concerning Health Care, UU No. 23 of 2002 in conjunction with UU No. 35 of 2014 concerning Amendments to UU No. 23 of 2002 concerning Child Protection, UU No. 4 of 1984 concerning Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases, UU No. 24 of 2007 concerning Disaster Management, and Presidential Decree No. 36 of 1990 concerning the Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Based on these violations, the coalition demands that the President and the involved ministers do six important things within 14 days, including:
- Releasing the data regarding positivity rates in every region with transparency;
- Accelerating the vaccination process and ensuring that the speedy fulfillment of the vaccination quota for every child of the age of 12-17 in Indonesia;
- Obligating all levels of education to require students who have not received their vaccine to continue to study online;
- Conducting a supervision of all levels of education to ensure their compliance with the requirements for the implementation of face-to-face learning based on the recommendations of WHO and the Indonesian Pediatric Society;
- Stopping face-to-face learning at the level of education that does not cumulatively comply with these recommendations;
- Stopping face-to-face learning at all levels of education in Indonesia if a school is confirmed to be a cluster for COVID-19.
Alliance for the Education and Safety of Children (APKA):
Arek Lintang (ALIT)
AMAR Law Firm & Public Interest Law Office (AMAR)
Forum Aksi Guru Indonesia (FAGI)
Forum Orang Tua Siswa (Fortusis)
Surabaya Children Crisis Center (SCCC)
Liaison of the PKA alliance: I.D. Nugroho 08165443718