Indonesia: Education union celebrate 75th anniversary and educators’ unwavering commitment in the face of tough challenges

published 3 December 2020 updated 7 December 2020

Indonesian teachers were praised for providing quality education during the COVID-19 crisis at the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Persatuan Guru Republik Indonesia (PGRI) and of the 2020 National Teacher’s Day.

The celebrations were organised on 28 November and gathered high-level speakers, with a hybrid event held at the PGRI headquarters, in Jakarta, and online.

Indonesia’s President Jokowi: Role and innovation capacity of teachers vital

In his welcome speech, the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, showed his appreciation to the teachers struggling with many challenges: “Thank you, teachers, for your dedication to educate the children of our nation and help them become valuable assets in the development of Indonesia”.

According to President Widodo, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the role and innovation capacity of teachers in carrying out teaching and learning activities has proven extremely vital. Teachers have been required to keep working and continue innovating to carry out teaching and learning activities, both online and via home visits with students, he said.

“Teachers were forced to adapt quickly, move to using new technologies, change their teaching methods, work as good as they can in order for students to keep learning, because challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic must not reduce the quality of learning,” he went on to stress.

Joint work between teachers and parents

President Widodo also stated that educational incentives at home were also important to a successful learning process for students. Therefore, communication and joint work between teachers and parents need to be improved. “I understand that many parents are waiting for schools to be reopened. However, we need to carefully think through the safety and health protocol. Teachers and students’ health and safety are our governmental main priority.”

He highlighted that his government had made many efforts to overcome teaching and learning challenges faced by teachers and parents during the pandemic, especially by providing teachers, lecturers, pupils and university students with an internet package.

A salary supplement was also given to teachers, whether or not they had the status of civil servants (PNS), and the government plans on hiring one million contract teachers, he said.

PGRI: PGRI’s successes despite the pandemic

PGRI President Unifah Rosyidi insisted that, while the union has been struggling to advocate for educators during the COVID-19 crisis, it was successful in persuading the government to grant the following:

  • Presidential decree No 98 on teachers’ salaries and allowances.
  • Subsidy for an internet package allocated to teachers, lecturers, pupils, and university students to ensure remote teaching and learning.
  • Subsidy to pay contract teachers’ salaries and for remote teaching.
  • Cancellation of the national test.

The PGRI also expects that all contract teachers, especially those older than 35, will be offered stable positions.

Innovative responses

Rosyidi also highlighted PGRI innovations, such as the “virtual Teachers’ Olympics”, the launch of Tunas TV (teachers’ TV) streaming, an app dedicated to assisting teachers, the PGRI smart learning centre, as well as webinars and online workshops.

“There were also many other innovations coming from local PGRI branches in all provinces, as we are committed to not giving up and to be up to the challenges brought to us by the pandemic,” she said.

She added that PGRI supports the emergence of creative, constantly learning and dedicated teachers who “will support students in developing their potential to become independent learners”.

Teachers are heroes

Jusuf Kalla, head of the PGRI Board, in a virtual contribution, underlined that teachers are heroes. “Teachers are all about heroism, brightness and dedication,” he said. If Indonesia is to improve as a nation, it needs to experience societal, social, and economic improvements, and “the improvement of the economy needs innovation coming from knowledge and technology”, he said.

This event was also attended by Professor Dr. Ing Wardiman Djojonegoro, Indonesia’s Former Minister of Education and Culture in 1993-1998, and by Jakarta’s Governor, Anis Baswedan. The latter explained that “teachers are the supporters of change in education, from our national independence to being in the front lines to prepare our nation’s future”, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his speech, the national Minister of Education and Culture, Nadiem Anwar Makarim, thanked PGRI for its constructive input to the government to accelerate the improvement of education, especially on teachers’ issues. He said that the PGRI input on simplifying teacher’s management, teachers’ competency, or solutions for contract teachers “gave food for thought for the Ministry of Education and Culture”.

You can watch the recording of the event on the PGRI YouTube channel: