Reinforcing Offline Schools: For better or For Worse?

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

Students all around Indonesia are now, for the first time ever, able to experience the joys of face-to-face learning ever since Indonesia’s first COVID-19 case. Starting from the 30th of August 2021, more than 500 schools have been permitted to reopen based on the country’s COVID-19 situation and whether or not it is safe enough for students to be exposed to a public space. Although these schools have been given the opportunity to reopen, they are advised to obey the terms and conditions laid out by the government in order to ensure the safety of the citizens, primarily by carrying out the social distancing measures. Schools are not necessarily the only institutions allowing students to attend in an offline environment. Some universities have also been given the window of opportunity to reopen their classrooms for some classes that require offline learning. This may seem as good news to those reminiscing about their life prior to the pandemic, but will it provide a positive outcome in the long run?

Attentiveness towards the classroom is one of the biggest privileges gained by university students when attending offline classes. This is because students will be live on site facing their professors in classes, where the professors will be supervising their classroom activities. Students are prone to being scolded by their professors and will always be reminded to give their utmost attention towards the discussions held in the classroom area. Unlike online classes,--where students would only need to be awoken once class starts which creates a higher probability of students falling back to sleep when class starts--the idea of having to prepare one’s self prior to the initial start of classroom activities and ensuring that one stays awake before classroom activities in order to travel to campus means that students undergoing offline learning will most likely be mindful and concentrate on the materials presented in class.

In terms of the economy, having offline classes means that students are not required to purchase softwares or electronic devices, making it easier for students coming from middle to low income backgrounds to study. In the midst of this pandemic, online classes simplify cheating for students. There has been a blurry line between embracing integrity or securing their mindset to reach their ultimate goal, which is to gain a perfect score. Online classes have made it easier for students to conduct plagiarism or dishonesty during their exams, which makes report cards and exam scores inaccurate in the means to define those capable of understanding the materials being presented in class. In the context of universities, those particular students succeeding in class with perfect scores due to them gaining an upper hand to swindle their exams would generate a new generation that, in fact, does not gain new knowledge on topics being pursued by them in the future. Thus, it creates a new habit and mindset for students to normalize unfair practices in different situations in life. Offline classes give students the opportunity to be able to not only understand the theoretical concepts of what they are learning. It helps them apply their new knowledge into certain situations that they will be faced with in the future once they are admitted to the jobs they have been aspiring for throughout their university career. The result of offline classes, in the long-run, will be the presence of well-educated students that hold the utmost integrity when facing economic challenges and decisions in order to develop their work, whether it is to push their business expenditures or to elevate their country’s development.

Although its given advantages, offline classes can cause drawbacks to the learning process of students. The 21st century is known for its innovations and advancements, particularly in the technological field. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown us that electronics and the world’s machinery has enhanced from time to time as everyone is able to continue their routine and adapt in the pandemic through a range of softwares. Being able to witness and partake in the application of technology to study and learn provides students a better understanding of the world’s technological evolution. Taking that away the privilege of being able to attend university online will hinder them from applying one of the most important aspects of the era, technology. Moreover, it will be a hassle especially for students residing in places far from university. Online school has made students normalize doing classes in various different places whilst doing different activities, better known as multitasking. Coming back to offline school will make it more difficult for students to manage their time wisely, especially those who signed up for numerous activities. Resources are easily available in online classes for those missing out on class activities by accessing the recordings made by professors throughout class hours which are non-existent during offline classes.

Without us realizing, the decision to turn the learning environment offline in a global pandemic remains a huge risk. There is always a 50-50 chance where anyone might be contaminated with the virus. The low numbers of COVID-19 in a country or in a certain region does not guarantee that one will not be infected with the virus because anyone could possibly be infected without us realizing. This does not only put students at risk, but the whole country because there is always a possibility of the COVID-19 numbers rising due to the re-opening of offline schools. With that possibility, governments will have to impose the PPKM (Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat) regulations on the country, which impacts the sources of income of the country. From the microeconomics point of view, demand for unsought, specialty, or non-essential goods and services from small businesses will decrease as consumers will be staying at home purchasing only those necessary to them. It would be a hassle for them to purchase those goods without actually being able to touch or feel it prior to purchasing it as it will be deemed questionable. From the macroeconomic perspective, the PPKM regulations cause a lockdown in the country where the arrival of foreigners are restricted or limited. This creates a huge loss on one of Indonesia’s biggest sources of income, which is the tourism sector. For instance, Bali is a tourist destination and with the lockdown, revenue from tourism will decrease. Furthermore, government expenditures will be focused on the cost of treating COVID patients, which creates an opportunity cost of the infrastructure that can boost the country’s development.

Fundamentally, the reinstatement of offline schools will have those supporting it and those choosing to be in the opposition side. Stepping back on-campus provides learners with the chance to gain applicable understanding and hands-on experience on the field that they will be pursuing. On the other hand, it is still a huge gamble that will be taken on one’s life due to the uncertainties of the corona virus that exists within the environment. Thus, to prevent this from happening, the government has planned to create a hybrid learning environment in order to get a taste of both types of learning based on an individual’s choice and whether or not they are comfortable with the idea of exposing themselves to the general public for the sake of their studies. Internally, students are faced with the dilemma being questioned by everyone else, prioritizing education or health.

Everything has its pros and cons, it is up to all of us to decide which risk is worth taking.

Article by Fibula Aikonadaa Patiroi

Research and Information EIS FEB UI

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