Fitriani is a teacher from Satap Junior High School in Pangkep District, South Sulawesi. By the end of July, South Sulawesi had the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, according to the National COVID-19 Task Force. She has not taught her students since March when the government halted school activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Unlike students in big cities, the children here found it difficult to take part in online learning due to more limited economic opportunities. Not to mention the limited internet signal,” said Fitriani. Together with other teachers, she brainstormed ideas on how to help students continue to study.
Before the pandemic, Fitriani along with three teachers at the school received training on how to deliver remote learning for children who have to help their parents at sea. This learning model is called the Boat Class and uses teaching materials enabling students to complete their studies while at sea.
"I completed the initial training in May 2019. When the school was closed this year due to the pandemic, we thought why don’t we apply this method?" she explained. Fitriani and the other teachers visited students at home to distribute the worksheets and assist them to complete the revised curriculum.
Fitriani encourages her students to continue learning during the pandemic. "We have no problem [delivering education during the pandemic]. The important thing is children can still study. The parents are also happy since their children do not miss any lessons," said Fitriani.
In May 2020, the Pangkep District Education Office – together with KOMPAK and INOVASI – provided further training to 30 school teachers on the Boat Class model and remote learning materials. "We did not only review the worksheets, but teachers were also given knowledge about health protocols when visiting students' houses and how to support them while doing assignments," explained Rukmini, the Head of the Teachers and Education Division at the Pangkep District Education and Cultural Affairs Office, which oversees the implementation of the ‘Boat Class’ model.
While initially piloted in three schools, the Boat Class model is now being delivered in 19 elementary schools, 9 junior high schools, and 10 high schools in Pangkep District. "Today, the Boat Class is not only applied to children who are helping their parents at sea, but also to those staying on the islands who have poor internet coverage," Rukmini added.
The Boat Class learning model has been implemented since 2017. This innovation was born as a response to the high dropout rates among children who work at sea. It has received strong support from the Pangkep District Government ever since. The model received the Public Service Innovation Award from the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform in 2018. It was also acknowledged as a Top 20 World Class Innovation by the United Nations in 2019.