The Covid-19 pandemic caused many sectors to experience shocks, including the education sector. One of the impacts is the overwhelmed private school operational in paying the salary of the teachers. Survey result conducted by INSPIRASI Foundation in collaboration with Global School Leaders shows that the pandemic has triggered distress of private school principals in handling their school’s financial issue (62%), including teachers’ salary.

In contrast to public schools, these school principals claim to have difficulty in managing School Operational Aid (BOS) fund. Although the Ministry of Education and Culture has made adjustments for its utilization to be more flexible, the principals get a tougher task to determine the scale of priorities and the amount of funds to be rolled out in each post.

Financial problem during the pandemic is a trending issue across many private schools in Indonesia recently. Such discourse encourages INSPIRASI Foundation and Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) to organize a webinar titled “Financial Challenges for Low Cost Private Schools during the Pandemic” on June 10th.

The webinar, moderated by Yoni Nurdiansyah, Program Manager of INSPIRASI Foundation, invited four speakers from various backgrounds. Namely, Prof. Dr. Nunuk Suryani, M.Pd (Secretary of the Directorate General of GTK Kemdikbud, Acting Head of Institution for the Development and Empowerment of School Principals and School Supervisors), Nadia Fairuzza Azzahra (CIPS Researcher), Dera Nugraha, S.Pd.I., M.Ikom (Principal of Insan Cendekia Middle School), and M. Fachrodzad, S.Pd.I (Vice Principal of MI Tunas Karya). Moreover, the webinar participants were more than 250 people from various backgrounds, such as school leaders, teachers, college students, and education practitioners across Indonesia.

The webinar began with a presentation from CIPS researcher about the experience of private schools in other countries facing financial challenges. Nadia Fairuzza said, several low cost private schools (SSBR) in developing countries are facing similar financial issues due to the pandemic. Therefore, education policy should be evenly applied in both public and private schools. CIPS also gave four recommendations: providing financial aid for SSBR, giving greater autonomy to the principals in managing BOS, collaborating with other institutions to improve benefit, and considering the presence of SSBR in the policy making process in the education sector.

It is also interesting to hear explanation from the representatives of private school administrators. Fachrodzad shared his experiences when having to carry out distance learning in his school. Various responses emerged from parents, teachers, and students on the policy because it also affected their socioeconomic conditions. MI Tunas Karya also launched COVID-19 program that was an acronym for Collaboration, Independent, Organization, Voluntary, and Impassioned. One of the collaboration was to involve parents during learning process through WhatsApp group created by the school administrator.

Dera Nugraha offered a different perspective explaining that principals of private schools must quickly follow the shifting of an era. Two crucial issues at least need to be immediately resolved by schools in general, namely decreasing financial income and the quality of online education services. These problems have an impact on parents students who then think, is it worth it when we have to pay tuition fees while studying from home, meanwhile we struggle to get our family’s income?

Responding to these challenges, Dera develops a “Guru Penggerak” (Teacher as Key Movers) program at his school. He gathers young teachers (millennial generation) who were proficient in technology to provide training for other teachers who need it, prepare online learning that is out of the box or differentfrom other schools, as well as find alternatives to boost school financial income. Some of the alternatives being tried are publishing or selling student and teacher’s writing, budikdamber (fish farming in buckets) testing, and doing other activities that are potential to become a source of school finance.

The most frequently asked question from webinar participants was about policy specifically incentives to hire teachers and educators in private schools. Prof. Nunuk replied that the Ministry of Education and Culture has not yet prepared any policies related to these incentives. However, they are currently preparing technical assistance in the form of platform online, online RPP that can be downloaded and used with no fee charge, and online study guidelines. Budget refocusing or fund reallocation has so far been used not to fund the teachers but to fund the online learning.

The financial condition of a private school that seems to be on the edge adds to the list of challenges for school principals. Not only thinking of how to survive in funding its operational, the school also has to ensure the implementation of distance learning are still fun and effective. Hence, the school will provide safety and comfort for their students, teachers and parents.

Author: Yoni Nurdiansyah

Editor: Masdar Fahmi

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