Students attend a school assembly at a senior high school on Pramuka Island, north of Jakarta. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Merdeka Belajar Program Taps Into Digital Learning Innovation
BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA
MAY 14, 2020
Jakarta. Teachers cannot be replaced by technology but more use of the latter can speed up learning innovations, the government has said.
Earlier this year, Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim launched the "Merdeka Belajar" (Freedom to Learn) program to give teachers more autonomy to control what happens in class.
The program was designed to improve students' literacy and numeracy skills following Indonesia's subpar achievement in the global education assessment, PISA.
Teachers are now free to choose any learning method that they deem most suitable for their students and this may give more room for innovations.
"The essence of 'Merdeka Belajar' is to unlock the full potential of teachers and students to innovate and improve their learning quality independently. Autonomy [in teaching] means not just following bureaucracy, but also carrying out innovations," Nadiem said in a recent teleconference.
According to the minister, teachers still play a key role in high-quality learning but technology should be there to augment the teaching process.
The innovation-focused Merdeka Belajar will not run optimally without the help of technology, he said.
WeKiddo has answered the call by designing an edutech app to make learning process easier and more efficient, especially for students learning from home during the pandemic.
The app features tutorials for less tech-savvy teachers so they can master WeKiddo in no time.
For students, the app offers online quizzes, exams and daily exercises that teachers can grade later.
Parents can even use the app to enroll their children at their preferred schools.
"We fully support the minister's program. We hope to improve education in the country by using technology. WeKiddo can transform your smartphone into a learning tool," WeKiddo Chief Executive Ferry Irawan said.
According to Unesco, one of the key factors that impact education quality is children's motivation in learning.
"This motivation is something that cannot be formed on its own and requires the help of others. Mental and moral support from parents can positively affect children's motivation to learn," Ferry said.
For more parental engagement, WeKiddo offers features to allow parents to monitor their children's learning progress, including their exam scores, agenda and attendance record.
In short, WeKiddo intends to create a complete ecosystem for students, teachers and parents in a single app.
As of now, WeKiddo has been trialed in more than 400 elementary and secondary schools around the country.