Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic - Jurnal UGM

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Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira		   Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education
                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

    Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory

    Education in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira                  10.22146/globalsouth.63312
International Relations, Universitas Katolik Parahyangan, Indonesia;

The Global South continues to face new threats and challenges posed by the COVID-19
pandemic. The debate over health and economy continues and often leaves one aspect out of
the equation: education. Especially in Southeast Asia where regional and domestic disparity
still lingers. Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) acknowledged that the development
gap remains one of the most crucial issues in the region. Using Buzan ‘s securitization
theory and the Japanese approach to human security, the article tries to prove why the current
state of education should be considered as a new non-traditional security threat and should be
securitized by countries in the region. The article will use a qualitative method and hypothesizes
that the inability of states to ensure quality education during the pandemic affects the quality of
the states’ human capital. The pandemic forces education institutions to rely on online learning.
However, not every student has access to required facilities such as internet connection, gadgets,
technologies, etc. Students in underdeveloped areas might struggle to participate in online
classes, forcing them to be left behind. In the long run, this will slow down Indonesia’s progress
in tackling the development gap.

Keywords: Indonesia, development gap, human security, lack of education, securitization

Introduction                                              system, the COVID-19 pandemic forces
        Quality and accessibility of education            Indonesia to adapt towards internet-based
remain to be the major contributor to Indonesia’s         learning. The pandemic enforces a new
human resources development. Approaching                  remote-learning mechanism for educational
the demographic dividend in 2030, Indonesia               institutions. This becomes a new challenge
aimed to tackle the development gap of human              and threat for Indonesia, as even before the
resources to maximize the benefits of the                 pandemic, Indonesia struggled to ensure an
demographic dividend. This is important, as               accessible education due to economic disparities
ensuring a high-quality human resource will               in Indonesia’s provinces. The diverse quality
result in the fulfillment of one of the aspects           of education gap also remains the core issue
of human security, economic security, as these            Indonesia needs to tackle. As education is the
people will be employed and have broader                  primary key towards achieving a higher quality
access to vast economic opportunities.                    of human resources, the government should see
        While improving their education                   this matter as urgent.

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Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira		   Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education
                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Most literature has discussed how education               be “remote learning”. Online learning requires
during a pandemic should be prioritized but               an accessible internet connection, gadgets, etc.
failed to explain why education should then be            Not every student has access to these luxurious
securitized and how it affects Indonesia’s effort         goods that enable them to participate in online
to maximize the demographic dividend it is                learning. UNICEF calculated that there are at
said to have.                                             least 147 million schoolchildren are unable to
        Seeing the urgency for education                  access online (or remote) learning in South
accessibility during the COVID-19 pandemic                Asia (United Nations Children’s Fund, 2020).
to be recognized as a threat, the Indonesian              This makes South Asia the region with the
government should securitize this issue.                  most schoolchildren lacking access to a proper
Securitizing the issue will lead the Indonesian           education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
government towards extraordinary measures                 In Indonesia out of 217,515 compulsory
needed to handle the issue. Therefore, this               education institutions (starting from Sekolah
article would like to explain why securitization          Dasar, Sekolah Menengah Pertama, to Sekolah
of education in Indonesia is urgent during                Menengah Akhir) 42,159 lack access to internet
the COVID-19 pandemic.                                    connection, and 8,522 are not yet powered
        First, this research would lay out the            with electricity (Kementerian Pendidikan dan
importance of education as a catalyst for                 Kebudayaan (KEMDIKBUD), 2020). The
human development to maximize Indonesia’s                 inaccessibility towards education during this
demographic dividend. The authors would also              COVID-19 pandemic has put Indonesia’s
explain the current condition of Indonesia’s              journey to maximize its demographic dividend
education during the COVID-19 pandemic.                   into a pause, or even a step back. Moreover, if
Second, the research will focus on the concept            not handled well, this would affect Indonesia’s
of security as its theoretical framework. Third,          recovery post-COVID-19.
the authors will provide literature reviews on
the case of education during the pandemic.                Education as Key to Maximize Demographic
Fourth, the analysis. The analysis will focus on          Dividend
the current education landscape and digital gap                   The development gap in human
as an urgent factor on why education should be            resources has been a long struggle for ASEAN
securitized.                                              and its members. Research conducted by
                                                          J.P. Morgan and Singapore Management
Education during COVID-19                                 University showed that even the ASEAN-5
         The current COVID-19 pandemic                    (Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and
becomes a new challenge for every international           the Philippines) are lacking skilled workers for
actor, but especially in this case, for Indonesia.        industrial demands (Vineles, 2018, 2).
Due to the enforced large-scale social distancing,                Struggling to develop its quality of
educational institutions are forced to conduct            human resources, Indonesia is pressured to
their learning activities online, namely called to        maximize its demographic dividend, which is

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                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

said to reach its peak in 2030. According to              Learning and Knowledge-Sharing Workshop
Gribble and Bremner, a demographic dividend               on Skills Development Strategy Formulation to
refers to the “accelerated growth that begins             achieve a higher quality of human resources.
with changes in the age structure of a country’s          Both domestically and internationally, the
population as its transitions from high to low            Indonesian government aims to increase the
birth and death rates” (Gribble & Bremner,                quality of human resources through assessing
2012, 2). By this, Gribble and Bremmer refer              their current education system and increasing
towards a time frame where Indonesia will                 citizen’s access.
be benefited from the high number of the
productive population. Hence, Indonesia needs             Methodology
to increase the quality of human resources,                       This research was conducted using the
to ensure that this demographic dividend will             qualitative method. Using the qualitative method
benefit the country instead of burdening them.            enables the researchers to “explore, describe and
        Jokowi has high hopes for the                     explain a social phenomenon” (Leavy, 2017,
development of human resources. The                       9). The authors discuss the current condition of
population data in 2019 showed that the                   Indonesian compulsory education and see how
productive age population in Indonesia reached            the COVID-19 affects it, and how the Indonesian
around 181 million people, meaning about                  government responds to it. This method was
67.6% of Indonesia’s population (Badan Pusat              chosen to fit the need for the analysis of the
Statistik, n.d.). To increase the quality of human        securitization theory used in the paper.
resources to ensure a beneficial demographic                      To answer the research question posed,
dividend in the later years, Indonesia relies on          the researchers chose to use the case study
cooperation and domestic efforts. Domestically,           approach. Yin in Bungin (2003, 21) explained
according to the press release, Indonesia is              that a case study approach is used to answer the
currently undergoing a strategy for reshaping             question of ‘how’ and ‘why.’ Through a case
Indonesian education. It aims to increase access,         study approach, authors will specifically discuss
quality and relevancy of education (Afandi                the conduct of Indonesian education during the
& Kementerian Perencanaan Pembangunan                     COVID-19 pandemic. A case study approach
Nasional/Bappenas, 2017, 2). Indonesia also               ensures an in-depth analysis of the specific
maximizes its cooperation with other countries            issue. A specific approach towards Indonesia’s
to pursue a better quality of education. The              education system during COVID-19 is urgent
Indonesian government has utilized the                    to hinder generalized analysis.
Reversed Linkage, a mechanism for the
exchange of knowledge, expertise, technology,             Theoretical Framework
and resources to develop South-South                      The Changing Concept of Security
cooperation funded by Islamic Development                         Scholars agree that the concept of
Bank (IsDB) (Islamic Development Bank,                    security has changed. After focusing on
2018, 6). They have conducted several Peer                traditional security, that is security in terms of

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Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira		   Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education
                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

military and hard power, with the emergence of            condition and their needs. Acharya (2001,
life after the Cold War, scholars started to see          446) argues that this view might lead to people
different possible sources of insecurities. The           believing that the debate and disagreement of
Copenhagen School of security studies (Buzan              human security will be between the western
et al., 1998, 1-19) argues that the concept of            and eastern sides of the world. However, rather
security experienced widening and a deepening.            than simplifying it into a debate between the
That being said, they argued that there has been          east and west, Acharya (2001, 446) sees that the
a change of the perception of threat to security:         disagreement also happens internally between
from merely military threats to also non-                 western countries and eastern countries.
military threats; a widening perception that it                    The Japanese definition of human
is not only about national security, or state as          security started as their response to the 1998
the main actor, but also international security:          Asian financial crisis. The then-Japanese Prime
ranging from international organizations,                 Minister believes that the economic downturn
states and also its people (the nation); and              has been threatening the daily lives of people.
an understanding of new multidimensional                  Hence, the Japanese approach to human security
perspectives to see security, as new actors and           concept will be used in analyzing this article as
new approaches emerged.                                   it ‘takes a comprehensive view of all threats to
         This new perception of security is               human survival, life, and dignity, which stresses
also supported by the existence of the human              the need to respond to such threats’ (Bosold &
security concept. First introduced by Mahbub              Werthes, 2005, 94). The Japanese definition
ul Haq and the United Nations Development                 criticizes other human security concepts,
Program, the human security concept consists              including the Canadian one, that focuses more
of seven components: economic security,                   on freedom from fear and often neglecting the
food security, health security, environmental             freedom of wants aspect (Acharya, 2001, 446).
security, personal security, community security,          Through the Japanese approach, education is a
and political security (Acharya, 2001, 444 -              part of the freedom of wants.
445). Other than ul Haq’s definition, the United                   To enhance the state of security for
Nations Commission on Human Security                      humans, the Copenhagen School of security
(Stein-Kaempfe, 2008, 42) believes that the               studies offers the concept of securitization.
concept of human security should be dynamic,              This concept will be used to explain the
hence also defines human security to consist              measures taken by the Indonesian government
of “what people consider to be vital, what                concerning education during the COVID-19
they consider to be, of the essence of life and           pandemic.
crucially important, varies across individuals                     Buzan, (1998, 24) argue that when
and societies.”                                           an issue is securitized, that means that it is
         Under the notion coming from the                 perceived as an existential threat, requiring
Commission on Human Security, countries                   emergency measures and actions outside the
also define human security based on their                 normal bounds of political procedures. They

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                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

argue that each country will securitize different         significantly influence the decision in the field
aspects, under their main interests (Buzan                of security.
et al., 1998, 24). Vuori in Kurniawan (2018,
22) emphasizes that there are five different              Literature Review
objectives to a securitization act: to raise an           Education in Times of Crisis
issue on the agenda; to legitimize future acts;                    COVID-19 has indeed affected the way
to legitimize past acts; to reproduce security            we conduct education. Several scholars have
status, and to exercise control.                          researched about the impact of COVID-19 on
         There are three components of                    education. Here, we are going to lay down several
securitization of an issue: existential threat,           related research to show the effect of a crisis on
emergency actions, and effect on inter-unit               education; the changes happening to education
relations by breaking free of rules or also               during the COVID-19 pandemic in general and in
known as extraordinary measures. Kurniawan                Indonesia, and its effects on students.
(2018, 19) stated that existential threat refers                   In discussing education during times of
to ‘the dominance of one issue’ that requires             crisis, Thomas et al. (2001) aim to analyze the
and must receive absolute priority; the threats           condition of Indonesia during the 1997 - 1998
to the existence of something. An issue, Buzan            financial crisis. They found that during this
et al. argue, is securitized once it is considered        time, school enrollment decreased, especially
and collectively responded to as a threat,                for households with lower income that are
through the process called speech act (1998,              usually located in the rural areas (Thomas et
26). However, for one issue to be considered              al., 2001, 24). They analyzed so by using the
as securitized, it has to also be accepted by the         correlation between household consumption
audience to whom the securitizing actor talks.            and school enrollment. They concluded that the
         In analyzing the process of securitization,      crisis will affect those who are poorer first, and
Buzan et al. (1998, 36 - 41) mention three units          it will have a different short, medium, and long-
of analysis. The first unit is the referent object        term effect on the specific group of people.
or the things that are seen to be existentially                    Bozkurt and Sharma (2020, i) stated that
threatened and that have a legitimate claim               the COVID-19 pandemic is the ‘first crisis to
to survival. Traditionally, states (and nations)          occur on the global scale in the digital knowledge
have been considered to be the primary                    age, and there will be socio-cultural, economic,
referent object of security. The second unit is           and political consequences in the wake of the
the securitizing actors or someone or group of            crisis.’ The pandemic is changing the way we
people who perform the security speech act.               organize education, from offline, face-to-face
Buzan et al. affirm that usually, the common              meetings to remote, often online, learning.
players are political leaders, bureaucracies,             However, Bozkurt and Sharma argue that in
governments, lobbyists, and pressure groups.              times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic,
The last unit of analysis is functional actors,           what is being taught is less important than the
those who affect the dynamics of a sector and             way the students feel. Hence, they favor a more

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Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira		   Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education
                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

empathetic approach to education during these                      A policy response published by
times (Bozkurt & Sharma, 2020, iv).                       the OECD analyzes the long-term impact
         The way students feel is not the                 of education during the COVID-19. Even
only problem to remote learning, especially               though the impact might seem temporary
in Indonesia. Rahiem in their writing ‘The                and insignificant since the majority of
Emergency Remote Learning Experience of                   schools implement remote learning, student’s
University Students in Indonesia amidst the               comprehension is difficult to ensure. OECD
COVID-19 crisis’ laid down several problems               argued the current loss of education will lead to
faced by Indonesian students in general.                  a ‘hysteresis’ (OECD, 2020). ‘Hysteresis’ in the
Rahiem stated that in Indonesia, there are                education context refers to the marginalization
several different approaches to emergency                 of how much students learn during face-to-
learning during COVID-19: e-learning (using               face learning versus remote learning, and how
the internet), m-learning (using mobile                   much students dropped out of school due to
devices), and conventional learnings (through             the inability to participate in remote learning.
modules, tasks and notes taking) (Rahiem,                 A ‘hysteresis’ will occur as a result of high-
2020, 8-9). The findings of the research stated           intensity remote learning but low student
that Indonesian students experienced several              engagement. This literature highlights that a
problems during their emergency remote                    student’s low ability to comprehend and engage
learning experiences, including technological             in remote learning will impact their generation
problems, for example, availability of mobile             in the long run.
and learning devices; internet connection;                         The five pieces of literature explained
boredom, and finding study materials for their            education in times of crisis, more specifically
study. However, Rahiem argued that as it is               for the latter three pieces of literature, during the
considered to be an “emergency,” hence it will            Covid-19 crisis. Bozkut and Sharma, Rahiem
only be temporary.                                        and Mailizar, et al. all agreed that COVID-19
         Another study was done by Mailizar,              has pushed education to have a new approach, focusing on the teachers’ views towards           for its conduct, which is through remote
e-learning in Indonesia during the pandemic.              learning. Exclusive to Rahiem, they argued
Mailizar, (2020, 7) found out that                 that the conduct consists not only of e-learning
Indonesian teachers, specifically mathematics             but also m-learning and conventional learning.
teachers that are their main subject of analysis,         OECD argued upon low student comprehension
face a great challenge during the conduct of              during remote-learning as a catalyst for a bigger
e-learning. They argued that the main barriers            problem: a hysteresis in education. All five,
are the access to devices and internet connection         however, argued differently when it comes to
for learning (Mailizar et al., 2020, 8). According        the effect of remote learning. Thomas, et al.,
to their study, they fear that this might have a          Mailizar, et al., and OECD argued that there are
grave implication on the students’ understanding          long-term effects due to the change of conduct
of the subject and their overall learning.                of education. While Rahiem and Bozkut and

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                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Sharma did not mention specifically the long-             comprehension and development, the quality of
term effect, they highlighted more the short-             available teachers in Indonesia becomes one of
term effect, with Rahiem arguing that this is             the most determining factors upon Indonesia’s
only temporary.                                           quality of education. Teachers are required to
        For this writing, we argue that the               have academic qualifications, competency, and
sudden change of conduct of education will                certification. From the school year of 2017-
indeed have a long-term effect for the students,          2018 to 2018-2019, the percentage of qualified
as has been stated by Thomas, et al. and                  teachers increased for SD, SMP, and SMA by less
Mailizar, et al. However, both studies have not           than 5%. The learning environment in schools
yet explained why education should then be                also determines education quality. The provided
securitized and how it affects Indonesia’s effort         facilities for students should meet the qualified
to maximize the demographic dividend it is                standard to support a more conducive learning
said to have.                                             process. However, the percentage of schools
                                                          with proper classroom facilitation has not
The Current Problems in Indonesian                        reached 50% (Badan Pusat Statistik, 2019, 17).
Education Landscape                                       This proved that the quality of education does
        As education remains the key actor                increase, but the increase is still too insignificant
towards increasing the quality of human                   for the Indonesian education system.
resources, the Indonesian education system                         The gap in education accessibility in
determines Indonesia’s ability to maximize its            the urban and rural areas still becomes one
demographic dividend. This section will discuss           of Indonesia’s obstacles. In terms of quantity
the current Indonesian education landscape and            of schools, from 2018 to 2019, the number of
the challenges it faced during the COVID-19               national primary schools decreased from a total
remote learning.                                          of 131,974 to 131860 as a consequence of the
        The current Indonesian education                  newly implemented “regrouping policy” where
landscape struggles to increase the quality               several national schools are forced to shut down
and accessibility of education. Based upon the            due to national budgeting efficiency (Badan
Rancangan Pembangunan Jangka Menengah                     Pusat Statistik, 2019, 10). The decrease of
Nasional Tahun          2020-2024     (RPJMN),            available schools affects the participation rate.
accessibility and quality remained an                     The less school available, the fewer students
unachieved goal from the previous RPJMNs.                 are educated. Angka Partisimpasi Murni
The quality might increase in the past years, but         (APM) measures the student’s participation
the improvements are not yet significant enough           rate. Geographically, the school participation
to achieve higher-order thinking skills (Badan            rate in urban areas is 16% higher than the
Pusat Statistik, 2019, 4). To measure the quality         participation rate in rural areas (Badan Pusat
of education there are two key determinants:              Statistik, 2019, 55). Indonesian rural areas
quality of teacher and classroom facilitation.            are still burdened with a high percentage of
As teachers play an important role in student’s           Anak Tidak Bersekolah, reaching 29.36% of

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                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

16 to 18-year-olds as of 2019 (Badan Pusat                Digital Divide in Indonesia as a Problem to
Statistik, 2019, 81). With the current condition          Remote Learning
of Indonesia’s education which lacks in                             Access to technology is crucial to
quality and accessibility, Indonesia faces a              support the success of remote learning in
real challenge in tackling the development gap            Indonesia. However, it is evident that Indonesia
to increase the quality of human resources.               is currently still facing what is called a ‘digital
Indonesian education system still has a lot of            divide.’ UNESCO in Borrero (2016, 5) defined
room to improve.                                          the digital divide as ‘a gap between those
        Compared to other nations, Indonesian             who are information-rich and those who are
student’s knowledge of mathematics, reading,              information-poor.’
and science is ranked below average. The                            Indonesia has been experiencing rapid
Organization for Economic Co-operation and                internet penetration growth. The data from
Development (OECD) initiated the Programme                Statistic Indonesia (Badan Pusat Statistik)
for International Student Assessment (PISA)               shows that in the span of four years (2014 -
to test the knowledge and skills of students              2019), the internet users in Indonesia grew
worldwide in three different subjects:                    from only 17.4% of the whole population to
mathematics, reading, and science. It aims                39.9% of the population (Badan Pusat Statistik,
to help schools and policymakers to assess                2018, 19). While households that have access
their education system through a comparative              to the internet almost doubled, from 35.5% in
measure (Schleicher & Organisation for                    2014 to 66.22% in 2018 (Badan Pusat Statistik,
Economic Co-operation and Development                     2018, 19). However, where it is being used will
(OECD), 2019, 3). The PISA 2018 results                   show us clearly the digital divide that currently
show that Indonesian students scored below                is still happening in the country.
average with a 116 margin in reading, 110                           Internet and mobile device usage in
margins in mathematics, and 93 margins                    Indonesia is still concentrated in several areas
in science (Avvisati et al., 2019, 1). PISA               only. Statistic Indonesia (2018, 123) showed
categorized 79 countries into 4 different levels          that 50.92% of Indonesians that live in urban
based upon the student’s average scores in the            areas access the internet, while in contrast, less
examination, with Level 1 being the lowest                than 30% of the people living in rural areas
average scores and Level 4 being the highest.             have access. In addition to that, 60% of the
Overall, Indonesia is categorized in Level 1 for          people living in DKI Jakarta, the city’s capital,
reading, mathematics, and science (Schleicher             have accessed the internet. However, less than
& Organisation for Economic Co-operation and              20% of people in the country’s most-eastern
Development (OECD), 2019, 6-9). Indonesian                province, Papua, have access to the internet
student’s scores in PISA demonstrates that                (Badan Pusat Statistik, 2018, 125). Other
Indonesia still needs to improve their education          than the data coming from Statistic Indonesia,
quality to compete with other nations.                    in 2018, the Indonesian Internet Providers
                                                          Association (APJII) survey showed that the

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island Java contributes to more than half of the          Security (2003, 114 - 115), the human security
internet usage in the country (Iswara, 2020).             perspective underscores the importance of
        The government has tried to narrow the            education, as it improves one’s quality of life
digital divide in the country through the Palapa          and directly affects one’s security.
Ring 4G broadband project (Iswara, 2020). The                     Enforced remote learning during the
Palapa Ring project was first introduced in 2005          COVID-19 poses new threats and challenges
but was finally realized in 2019 (Adisti, 2017,           towards Indonesian education. It threatens
18). Regardless of the government’s effort to             the progress Indonesia has made towards the
make sure every part of the country has access to         increase of education quality and education
the internet, the digital divide remains. A report        accessibility to ensure a better quality of
was done by Indonesian media, Tirto, said that            human resources. The pandemic also threatens
the utilization of the Palapa Ring broadband              Indonesians’ school participation rate; as
was under 50%, even during the pandemic of                the basic requirements widen. To enroll and
Covid-19, in which a lot of people are asked to           effectively participate in school, children need
stay at home and the usage of the internet was            gadgets, stable internet and electricity access,
supposedly increasing (Thomas, 2020).                     etc. The COVID-19 pandemic challenges the
        The digital divide experienced by                 Indonesian education curriculum, as it needs
the country has indeed affected the country’s             to adapt towards remote online learning. The
readiness to face the pandemic. An article                education system was shaped based upon
written in The Jakarta Post stated that the               physical learning, where teachers and students
digital divide being faced in the country                 interact physically and communications are
‘weighed down on schools affected by the                  less complicated. The COVID-19 forces
social restriction, which are expected to shift to        educational institutions to adapt in ways
online learning with little to no preparation in          they never imagined before. The Indonesian
internet access’ (Iswara, 2020). Even in areas in         government needs to reallocate more funds for
Java, the island most connected to the internet,          distance learning expenses, capacity building
the problem still persists: teachers in West Java         for teachers, and other further support for
had to visit their students’ houses to do private         remote learning.
tutoring, or local communities preparing their                    The COVID-19 challenged Indonesia
pendopos to give access to the internet for               to adapt its curriculum to an online-based
students to access and do their remote learning           learning environment, also to provide effective
(BBC Indonesia, 2020; Souisa, 2020).                      and accessible remote learning for both the
                                                          students and teachers. Indonesia’s education
Securitization of Education: A Needed Act?                sectors are faced with threats of regress in the
        Based on the arguments and data                   school participation rate and their goal to benefit
presented before, the Indonesians are facing a            from the demographic dividend in 2030. This
threat to their security, especially in terms of          posed a threat to Indonesians’ human security,
education. The UN Commission of Human                     especially considering access to education is

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Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira		   Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education
                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

important to ensure economic growth as has                that, he also made another public announcement
been mentioned earlier by the authors.                    about an emergency curriculum for students
        The wide gap in Indonesia between                 during COVID-19, a new regulation for the
those who can access education during the                 school operational aid (Bantuan Operasional
COVID-19 pandemic can also be considered                  Sekolah, BOS) for school, cooperation with
as a threat to human dignity, as the Japanese             Netflix to broadcast educational contents on
approach to human security has stated. Those              TVRI, the national broadcasting company of
who struggled to access education due to                  Indonesia, a reduction of university fee, to
economic incapability will struggle even                  name a few. Furthermore, in an interview with
more during this crisis, as education becomes             Najwa Shihab, Minister Makarim swears over
harder to grasp. Inaccessibility of education             his position as the minister to fight in order
even existed before the pandemic, the gap is              to free internet data packages for students.
widening even more during this COVID-19                   These responses from the government act as an
pandemic’s physical distancing rule and the               extraordinary measure to securitize education
obligation to do remote learning. That is why             during the COVID-19.
this can be considered as an existential threat to                 Even though the government has
every Indonesians’ security and in need of an             securitized education during Covid-19,
act of securitization.                                    the fundamental problem of quality and
        The main securitizing actor for this              accessibility has not been addressed. We
issue, the Indonesian Ministry of Education               can analyze the securitizing actor (Minister
of Culture (MOEC) has already securitized                 of Education and Culture) doing the speech
education. They have been producing several               acts through several online-broadcasted and
speeches done by the minister, Nadiem                     televised programs being agreed upon by its
Makarim. Minister Makarim has several                     audience, the Indonesian students, and making
times broadcasted his policies responding                 extraordinary measures. However, if we ask
to the disruption of education conditions                 whether or not they have been securitizing
in Indonesia caused by the pandemic. For                  the most fundamental problem in Indonesian
example, he announced publicly through an                 education during COVID-19, which is equal
online-broadcasted press conference that he               access to education, the answer is no; they
chose to cancel the national examination (Ujian           have not. The extraordinary measures done
Nasional), to ensure the “safety and health of our        by the Indonesian MOEC have not been able
students, their families’ safety, and the students’       to answer the existential threat of Indonesian
grandparents” (BBC Indonesia, 2020). At the               education during the pandemic: the very wide
beginning of the year, the national examination           gap between the more developed and the less
should have been conducted based upon the                 developed areas (rural and urban areas). The
said schedule, however, due to the COVID-19               extraordinary measures from the Indonesian
pandemic, Minster Makarim decided to take an              MOEC only maintain the status quo but fail
extraordinary measure to cancel it. Other than            to solve the fundamental problem, the one we

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Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira		   Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education
                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

consider to be the existential threat.                    ‘Covid-sensitive.’ Minister Makarim said that
        We can take the example of the                    the curriculum consists of a simplification
MOEC’s policy of giving out free internet                 of the current curriculum, and to focus only
quotas. Indeed, Minister Makarim has been                 on essential competencies (CNN Indonesia,
able to enact the policy of distributing internet         2020). Even so, Minister Makarim did not
quotas for students, from primary education to            make this policy obligatory, again opening the
tertiary education. However, the policy only              chance to widen the gap between schools in the
benefits those who already have stable internet           nation. As has been explained in the sections
and electricity access. While in reality, most            before, the quality of schools in Indonesia
Indonesian students who are living in remote              varies. The quality of teachers, which is one
and rural areas do not have a gadget that can be          of the determinants to measure the quality of
used to access the internet, to begin with. They          education in the country, still varies. Hence,
also struggle with access to a stable electricity.        changing the curriculum to become more
And this has been the reality to most of the              sensitive towards the pandemic but not making
Indonesian students during the pandemic.                  it obligatory, will give the possibility to make
Another example is the policy to broadcast                schools with better teachers that pursue more
educational content on the national television            complicated materials, widening the education
channel, TVRI. A teacher in Garut, West Java,             gap in Indonesia.
and part of the country’s more developed area,                    The Indonesian Ministry of Education
still decided to give offline private tutoring to         and Culture has tried to securitize education.
their students. They decided to do so because             Their extraordinary measures maintained
the students do not have gadgets to access                the status quo, but sadly, have not answered
internet-based learning, nor the antennae                 and solved the existential threat faced by
needed to watch television, as it is considered           Indonesians: accessibility and quality of
to be expensive (BBC Indonesia, 2020). The                education. Thus, it is indeed important for the
condition in Indonesia proves that accessibility          MOEC to revisit its policies, to ensure a better
towards education worsened during the                     approach towards the root problems of the
pandemic. Those who initially have the luxury             Indonesian education landscape.
to enjoy education can utilize internet quotas
from the government. However, those who                   Conclusion
struggle to access basic equipment for remote                     Struggling to improve their quality and
learning such as electricity, connection, and             accessibility of education, Indonesia is facing a
gadgets, remain unable to access education.               new challenge: the COVID-19 pandemic. The
        One extraordinary measure that can                enforced remote learning has forced Indonesia
be considered to be more inclusive and can                to adjust their progress in achieving a qualified
answer the need to narrow the gap is the                  education to increase the quality of their human
emergency curriculum that is said to be more              resources for the upcoming demographic bonus.

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Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira		   Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education
                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Remote learning has challenged Indonesia’s                Kurniawan, Y. (2018). The Politics of Securi-
ability to ensure effective online learning and                  tization in Democratic Indonesia. Pal-
tackling the digital divide in Indonesia. These                  grave Macmillan. 10.1007/978-3-319-
problems occur even before the COVID-19                          62482-2
pandemic, but it remains unsolved, hence why              Stein-Kaempfe, J. (2008). Human Security –
it is important for the government to securitize                 Völkerrechtliche Aspekte eines inter-
education, to ensure the future of the country                   nationalen Sicherheitskonzeptes zu Be-
itself. Using the theory of securitization, the                  ginn des 21. Jahrhunderts. Duncker &
author has analyzed the measures taken by the                    Humblot.
Indonesian government.
        Through the Ministry of Education                 Reports by Government Agency
and Culture, Indonesia has been doing                     Badan Pusat Statistik. (n.d.). Jumlah Penduduk
several actions that can be considered as                       Menurut Kelompok Umur dan Jenis
an act of securitization. Minister Makarim                      Kelamin, 2019. Badan Pusat Statis-
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extraordinary measures to help alleviate the          
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of remote learning, during the COVID-19                   Badan Pusat Statistik. (2018). STATISTIK
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has not yet answered the fundamental and                        2018. Badan Pusat Statistik. Retrieved
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to education, continue to enjoy online learning                 dikan Indonesia: Statistik Pendidikan
with the internet quotas provided by the                        Indonesia 2019 (D. Susilo, M.Si., I.
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Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira		   Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education
                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

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                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Aloysius Efraim Leonard; Ruth Latreia Theo Saphira		   Bridging the Gap: Securitizing Lack of Accessible Compulsory Education
                                                                                    in Indonesia during the Covid-19 Pandemic


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