Portraits of Papuan Hinterland Children in the Learning Era Using Zoom

goodmorningpapua.com –  Covid-19 becomes a global pandemic. This plague changed a great deal of the life structure. People are encouraged to stay at home as one of the health protocols. Including the implementation of the children’s education process from home.

The education process from home or known as school from home (distance learning / PJJ) requires some of supporters in its implementation, such as the availability of signals, quotas, devices, applications, and digital literacy from both the child and the accompanying parents.

PJJ is not relevant for Papuan children, especially children in the hinterlands, such as a regency on the southern coast of Papua, Asmat Regency. Asmat is a regency, each of which is separated by a river and the sea. In terms of mobility, Asmat Regency is very difficult to reach.

The conditions required in PJJ are irrelevant and impossible to fulfill in the rural districts of Asmat. Agats, the regency capital, the most advanced point in Asmat Regency, has just recently received 24-hour electricity facilities. If the solar supply are being disturbed since the ship is disturbed by sea waves, Agats can go out for days.

In neighbouring regency such as Atsj, electricity only turns on 12 hours a day. Village and other more inland district are no electricity at all. That’s just about electricity.

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Internet signals take a major role in PJJ to be able to connect to learning applications such as Zoom, Google Meet, Google Classroom. And the signal in Asmat, obviously will not be strong enough to access these applications.

The only provider being able to “live” over there is Telkomsel, but the signal is so bad.  Only to send a text message, it takes 2 days to send.  The not too bad internet can be obtained by buying a Wifi vouchers provided by the stores for 50,000 per two hours with a quota of less than 20MB.

The Asmat children, especially in the hinterland districts such as Kampung Pirimapun and Kampung Bayun in Safan District, are almost completely isolated. Never mind to have a device to be proficient in operating it. They couldn’t even wear shoes. They were barefoot until someone gave them the shoes and the understanding that footwear was important to them.

The condition of education is no less alarming.  It will not be difficult for us to find junior high school and even senior high school pupils who cannot read, do not recognize numbers and letters. Never need to be far to digital literacy in which smart children operate and find solutions from devices and the internet. They are still illiterate about it. 

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PJJ is carried out in two directions, the teacher providing the material on the one hand, the students and the accompanying parents on the other side. These are performed simultaneously through the application. But the pattern of PJJ like this will only be in Jakarta or areas in which the internet is extra fast with the condition of students who have gadgets and quotas. It maybe not in Asmat.

Many teachers and principals were absent. School is merely a building. These phenomena can be testified in the most of schools in most villages. Only teachers and principals having a good commitment choose to stay, the rest of them are mostly in cities and will only come for exams.

Even if the school runs perfectly with teachers and principals present, students may not attend due to food demands. They have to follow their parents into the forest for looking for sago, fish, or hunting pigs with spend the night on bivouacs, and will come back a few weeks later.

Those children must also solve the problem of their parents in foraging for food. Never mind being a companion who sits beside the child when learning through Zoom. Parents and perhaps many parents throughout Indonesia are still struggling to survive. They do not have a device, let alone the ability to use it.

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The description of the Asmat children may be the picture of the most Papuan children in their education. They have to enter into an education system that is completely foreign and unfamiliar to them.

In fact, education is the policy not to involve children in the hinterland of Papua as the research sample. Including PJJ which must be implemented during a pandemic, does not exclude children in the inland of Papua. The distance learning is the discontinuation of education for the inland children.

Author: Trias Yuliana Dewi, A Papuan Activist

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