Published: 22 Feb 2021

Talking about the Covid-19 pandemic, Prof. Komarudin Hidayat has a story like this. Once, there were two frogs placed in two separate containers. In the first container, the water in which the frog is heated slowly until it boils. Meanwhile, in the second container, the frog is immediately poured with hot water. Which of the two frogs survived?

Correctly! Frog in the second container. Why? Because of suddenly being scalded with hot water, the second frog was startled and immediately jumped out of the container. In the second container, because the water was heated slowly, the frog did not immediately notice the water temperature change. When the water boiled, he realized, but it was too late. The frog finally died.

Was the Covid-19 pandemic the "hot water" earlier? Yes. However, the attitude of several educational institutions in responding was different.

In the United States, several small universities, with fewer than 5,000 students, have apparently responded too late. As a result, they fell to their knees. President University (PresUniv) Rector, Prof. Dr. Jony Haryanto, in his column in Bisnis Indonesia daily (www.ekonomi.bisnis.com) in mid-2020, wrote that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many small campuses in the US were suddenly empty.

In the US, many small campuses have a boarding system and provide meals for their students. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, many campuses asked students to return to their homes. Lectures are also held online. As a result, the dormitory was empty. Catering services also stopped. The campus no longer gets income from the two services.

The condition worsened when many high school graduates there, who had registered as students from the campus, finally did not come. Everyone are afraid of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the number of new students decreases, and campus income declined.

JFK University: The Covid-19 pandemic forced campuses to cease operations.
Source: www.collegelearner.com

The situation was hitting small campuses in the US. Several campuses gave up. John F.Kennedy (JFK) University has announced via its website that they have stopped operating in 2020. All students who have already studied and registered there will be transferred to other campuses that are more alert in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic to continue to operate.

A similar phenomenon also occurs in Indonesia. Several campuses reported being overwhelmed to the point that they could no longer afford to finance their operations because many students were in arrears for tuition payments. According to Budi Djatmiko, Chairman of the Asosiasi Perguruan Tinggi Swasta Indonesia (Aptisi), as quoted by Republika (www.republika.id), "There are 70% of students who are in arrears of payments." Students cannot afford to pay because their parents' businesses have gone bankrupt, have become victims of layoffs or have had their salaries cut. Most of them attend small colleges with a student population of 1,000 to 2,000.


Disaster = Quantum Leap

The Covid-19 pandemic has indeed had a significant impact on all aspects of people's lives in the world. History also recorded many giant leaps in human civilization triggered by major calamities, including those in the health sector, for example, smallpox. In the past, people considered smallpox as the most terrifying and, at the same time, deadly disease. Those infected with smallpox will be exiled — including being expelled from the village where they live. According to the History of Vaccine report, in the 18th century, smallpox caused about 10% of England's population to die (www.kontan.co.id). Worldwide, up to the 20th century, smallpox killed at least 300 million people (www.bbc.com).

The enormous tragedy in England actually prompted Edward Jenner, a doctor from rural Berkeley in England, to find a vaccine for smallpox. In the modern era, thanks to Jenner's findings, smallpox is no longer a scary disease anymore. Or even deadly. It became an usual illness, almost like the flu. Many parents hope that their children are infected with smallpox from an early age. Because, after him, they will be immune to smallpox attacks.

A similar phenomenon occurred in discovering the rabies vaccine by Louis Pasteur in late 1885, the diphtheria vaccine by German scientist Emil von Behring (1890), the polio vaccine (Jonas Edward Salk, 1954) and the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine or commonly abbreviated as MMR. History recorded that the five vaccines played a significant role in saving billions of children in the world from infectious diseases, disabilities and even death.

That is what happened in the health sector. The pandemic that took millions of lives prompted great leaps.

Then, how do we take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to generate leaps not only for the world of health but also in various other fields - including education?

Jony Haryanto said in a webinar that was held on Thursday, last January. "Previously, we wanted to implement Pelajaran Jarak Jauh (PJJ) or online program, the difficulty was not simple. They had to take care of these permits until they were delayed and finally they didn't happen. Now, with the Covid-19 pandemic, without having to bother managing permits, many campuses and educational institutions automatically implement an online learning system. "

Online learning schemes open up many opportunities for educational institutions. For example, the campus has the opportunity to recruit more students from various regions. In the past, with an offline (face-to-face) learning scheme, the campus could only attract a limited number of students from the region. Many regional students have difficulty with the costs of being able to come and study face-to-face on campus.

Through online learning, this difficulty is resolved. Students from the region, for example, do not need to pay for transportation, boarding rent and other daily necessities. They only need to pay tuition fees.

Online tuition also keeps costs down. For example, campuses no longer need to prepare classrooms, including lights, air conditioning and various other devices. These cut tuition fees down — maybe half. As a result, tuition fees are becoming increasingly affordable.


Can Recruit More Students

According to data from the Directorate General of Higher Education, Ministry of Education and Culture, out of 2-3 million SMA or SMK graduates, only 38% can continue their education to a higher level (www.kompas.com). This is relatively low. One of the reasons is the high cost of tuition in universities. If tuition fees cut in half, of course, there will be more high school or vocational school graduates who can continue their education to higher education.

So, the online lecture scheme makes an opportunity for the campus to recruit more students from the region and even outside the country's territory. This has done by many well-known universities abroad, such as Harvard University, Stanford University, MIT, Michigan State University, and many others.

Unfortunately, not many campuses in Indonesia can take advantage of these opportunities. Never mind increasing students' number; many campuses, especially small campuses, are not even ready to hold an online lecture scheme. So, do not be surprised if they are overwhelmed and ultimately unable to finance their operational activities.

Thus, new success occurs when the opportunity comes; we are ready to welcome it. If there is no readiness, chances are only opportunities. He just passed by without us being able to catch him.

This is undoubtedly a cause for concern. Campus, which incidentally is an educational institution where people can learn many things, fails to educate themselves to be more adaptive and agile towards change. Among other things, changes triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

For campuses that can survive, how can they take advantage of the pandemic to do the leapfrog? Abdul Wahid Maktub, the special adviser to the Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education (2015-2020), suggests this. Campus, he said, needs to return to its essence. "The essence of education is to help students to know themselves and their environment. So, they do not teach them just to memorize, but they must also be able to relate data to phenomena that occur in society, so that students are able to have predictive thinking, "explained Abdul Wahid, at length.

Abdul Wahid Maktub.
Source: www.youtube.com
Budi Susilo Soepandji.
Source: Doc. PresUniv
SD Darmono.
Source: Doc. Jababeka

Abdul Wahid was also one of the speakers in Peluang di Masa Pandemi untuk Leapfrog dalam Pendidikan, last Thursday. He said again, “Many educational institutions only make students smart for a moment, but when changes occur, they don't have the endurance. So, it is important for educational institutions to provide character education, confidence, independence, endurance, including being able to communicate and collaborate. "

Other speakers in the webinar were Prof. Dr. Ir. Budi Susilo Soepandji, DEA, Governor of the National Defense Institute (2011-2016) who is currently the Chair of the Yayasan Pendidikan Universitas Presiden. According to Prof. Budi, campuses need to take advantage of this pandemic to become more collaborative with the industrial world. "So, research carried out by campuses must be related to industrial needs. Not only for his own needs, "said Prof. Budi.

Meanwhile, SD Darmono, founder of President University and the Jababeka Group, who also participated in the discussion at the webinar, emphasized the availability of internet networks as a critical factor in frog jumping in the world of education. "With the internet, we can learn with anyone, from anywhere, anytime, online. These make lecture activities more flexible," he said.

Then, related to the pandemic, Darmono saw it this way. The pandemic has indeed made many companies difficult. One of them is the difficulty to pay its employees. "With a more flexible lecture system, students can actually work in these companies. They can work while continuing to learn. Because while studying, companies may not have to pay students a price that is too expensive. So, this is a win-win situation. Companies, which are facing hardships due to the pandemic, can find workforce at competitive wages. Meanwhile, on the other hand, students who need money to pay tuition fees can work while continuing to study, "he explained.

He closed his presentation by emphasizing, "If knowledge is not practiced, it will not make us smarter."

Those are some frog jumping ideas that the world of education needs to do during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please choose which one is more suitable. (JBS and Silvia Desi Betrice, PR team).






Bicara soal pandemi Covid-19, Prof. Komarudin Hidayat punya cerita begini. Alkisah, ada dua katak yang ditempatkan pada dua wadah berbeda. Pada wadah pertama, air tempat katak itu dipanaskan perlahan-lahan sampai akhirnya mendidih. Sementara, pada wadah kedua, katak langsung disiram air panas. Mana di antara dua katak itu yang bertahan hidup?

Betul sekali! Katak di wadah kedua. Mengapa? Oleh karena sontak disiram air panas, katak kedua kaget dan langsung melompat ke luar wadah. Pada wadah kedua, oleh karena airnya dipanaskan perlahan-lahan, sang katak tidak dengan cepat menyadari perubahan suhu air. Ketika airnya mendidih, baru ia sadar, tetapi semuanya sudah terlambat. Katak itu akhirnya mati.

Apakah pandemi Covid-19 adalah “air panas” tadi? Iya. Namun, sikap sejumlah lembaga pendidikan dalam merespon ternyata berbeda-beda.

Di Amerika Serikat sejumlah perguruan tinggi kecil, yang jumlah mahasiswanya tak sampai 5.000 orang, rupanya telat merespon. Akibatnya mereka tersungkur. Rektor President University (PresUniv) Prof. Dr. Jony Haryanto, dalam kolomnya di harian Bisnis Indonesia (www.ekonomi.bisnis.com) pertengahan 2020 menulis, akibat pandemi Covid-19, banyak kampus kecil di AS yang mendadak kosong.

Di AS, banyak kampus kecil yang menerapkan sistem asrama dan menyediakan makanan bagi mahasiswanya. Ketika pandemi Covid-19 melanda, banyak kampus yang meminta mahasiswanya kembali ke rumah masing-masing. Kuliah pun diselenggarakan secara online. Akibatnya asrama jadi kosong. Layanan jasa katering pun ikut terhenti. Kampus tak lagi mendapatkan pemasukan dari dua layanannya itu.

Kondisi semakin memburuk ketika banyak lulusan SLTA di sana, yang sudah mendaftar sebagai mahasiswa dari kampus itu, akhirnya tak jadi datang. Semua takut dengan pandemi Covid-19. Akibatnya jumlah mahasiswa baru terus berkurang, sehingga pendapatan kampus pun merosot.

Situasi tersebut memukul kampus-kampus kecil di AS. Beberapa kampus pun menyerah. John F. Kennedy (JFK) University sudah mengumumkan lewat website-nya bahwa mereka sudah menghentikan kegiatan operasionalnya pada 2020 lalu. Seluruh mahasiswa yang sudah terlanjur kuliah dan mendaftar di sana akan dialihkan ke kampus-kampus lain yang lebih sigap dalam merespon pandemi Covid-19, sehingga masih bisa terus beroperasi.  

Fenonema serupa juga terjadi di Indonesia. Sejumlah kampus melaporkan kewalahan sampai tak mampu lagi membiayai kegiatan operasionalnya, karena banyak mahasiswa yang menunggak pembayaran uang kuliah. Menurut Budi Djatmiko, Ketua Asosiasi Perguruan Perguruan Tinggi Swasta Indonesia (Aptisi), sebagaimana dikutip Republika (www.republika.id), “Ada 70% mahasiswa yang menunggak pembayaran.” Mahasiswa tak mampu membayar karena bisnis orang tuanya gulung tikar, menjadi korban PHK atau gajinya dipangkas. Kebanyakan mereka kuliah di perguruan tinggi kecil yang jumlah mahasiswanya 1.000 sampai 2.000 orang.


Musibah = Lompatan Kuantum

Pandemi Covid-19 memang membawa dampak besar bagi seluruh sendi-sendi kehidupan masyarakat di dunia. Meski begitu sejarah juga mencatat, banyak lompatan besar dalam peradaban manusia yang justru dipicu oleh musibah-musibah besar, termasuk musibah dalam bidang kesehatan. Contohnya cacar. Dulu, masyarakat menganggap cacar sebagai penyakit yang paling menakutkan dan sekaligus mematikan. Mereka yang terinfeksi penyakit cacar akan diasingkan—termasuk diusir dari desa tempat tinggalnya. Menurut laporan History of Vaccine, pada abad ke-18, cacar menyebabkan sekitar 10% penduduk di Inggris meninggal dunia (www.kontan.co.id). Di seluruh dunia, hingga abad ke-20, cacar telah membunuh setidak-tidaknya 300 juta orang (www.bbc.com).

Musibah besar di Inggris itu ternyata mendorong Edward Jenner, seorang dokter dari pedesaan Berkeley di Inggris, berhasil menemukan vaksin cacar. Kini, di era modern, berkat temuan Jenner, cacar tak lagi menjadi penyakit yang menakutkan lagi. Apalagi mematikan. Ia menjadi penyakit biasa saja, nyaris serupa flu. Bahkan banyak orang tua yang berharap anak-anaknya terinfeksi cacar sejak dini. Sebab, setelah ia mereka akan kebal dari serangan penyakit cacar.

Fenomena serupa terjadi dalam penemuan vaksin rabies oleh Louis Pasteur pada akhir tahun 1885, vaksin difteri oleh ilmuwan Jerman Emil von Behring (1890), vaksin polio (Jonas Edward Salk, 1954) dan vaksin  Measles-Mumps-Rubella atau biasa disingkat MMR. Sejarah mencatat, lima vaksin itu berperan besar dalam menyelamatkan miliaran anak di dunia dari penyakit menular, cacat dan bahkan kematian.

Itulah yang terjadi dalam bidang kesehatan. Pandemi yang menelan jutaan korban jiwa mendorong terjadinya lompatan-lompatan besar.

Lalu, bagaimana kita memanfaatkan pandemi Covid-19 agar menghasilkan lompatan tak hanya bagi dunia kesehatan, tetapi juga dalam berbagai bidang lainnya—termasuk bidang pendidikan?

Jony Haryanto bercerita dalam sebuah webinar yang digelar pada Kamis, akhir Januari lalu. “Dulu kami mau menerapkan program Pembelajaran Jarak Jauh (PJJ) atau online sulitnya bukan main. Mesti ngurus izin ini-itu sampai akhirnya tertunda-tunda dan akhirnya tidak jadi. Kini, dengan adanya pandemi Covid-19, tanpa harus ribet mengurus izin, banyak kampus dan lembaga pendidikan secara otomatis menerapkan sistem pembelajaran secara online.”

Skema pembelajaran secara online sebetulnya membuka banyak peluang bagi lembaga-lembaga pendidikan. Misalnya, kampus berpeluang untuk merekrut lebih banyak mahasiswa dari berbagai daerah. Dulu, dengan skema pembelajaran secara offline (tatap muka), kampus hanya mampu menjaring mahasiswa dari daerah dalam jumlah terbatas. Banyak mahasiswa daerah yang mengalami kesulitan biaya untuk bisa datang dan kuliah secara tatap muka di kampus.

Lewat pembelajaran secara online, kesulitan itu teratasi. Mahasiswa asal daerah, misalnya, tak perlu mengeluarkan biaya transportasi, sewa kos dan kebutuhan sehari-hari lainnya. Mereka hanya perlu membayar biaya kuliah.

Perkuliahan secara online juga membuat berbagai biaya turun. Misalnya, kampus tak perlu lagi menyiapkan ruang kelas, termasuk dengan lampu, AC dan berbagai perangkat lainnya. Ini membuat biaya perkuliahan menjadi turun—mungkin menjadi tinggal separonya. Akibatnya biaya kuliah menjadi semakin terjangkau.


Bisa Rekrut Lebih Banyak Mahasiswa

Menurut data Ditjen Pendidikan Tinggi, Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, dari 2-3 juta lulusan SMA atau SMK, yang bisa melanjutkan pendidikannya ke jenjang yang lebih tinggi hanya 38% (www.kompas.com). Ini terbilang rendah. Salah satu penyebabnya adalah mahalnya biaya kuliah di perguruan tinggi. Jika biaya kuliah bisa dipangkas menjadi tinggal separonya, tentu akan lebih banyak lagi lulusan SMA atau SMK yang bisa melanjutkan pendidikannya ke perguruan tinggi.

Jadi, skema perkuliahan online membuat kampus berpeluang untuk merekrut lebih banyak mahasiswa. Bukan hanya dari daerah, tetapi bahkan sampai ke luar wilayah negaranya. Ini sudah dilakukan oleh banyak kampus ternama di luar negeri, seperti Harvard University, Stanford University, MIT, Michigan State University, dan masih banyak lagi yang lainnya.

Sayangnya belum banyak kampus di Indonesia yang mampu memanfaatkan peluang tersebut. Jangankan menambah jumlah mahasiswa, banyak kampus, terutama kampus-kampus kecil, yang bahkan belum siap untuk menyelenggarakan skema perkuliahan secara online. Maka, tak heran kalau mereka kewalahan dan akhirnya tak sanggup membiayai kegiatan operasionalnya.

Begitulah, sukses baru terjadi ketika peluang itu datang, kita siap menyambutnya. Jika tanpa kesiapan, peluang hanya tinggal peluang. Ia lalu lalang begitu saja tanpa kita mampu menangkapnya.

Ini tentu memprihatinkan. Kampus, yang notabene merupakan lembaga pendidikan, tempat masyarakat bisa belajar banyak hal, gagal untuk mendidik dirinya sendiri agar menjadi lebih adaptif dan agile terhadap perubahan. Di antaranya, perubahan yang dipicu oleh pandemi Covid-19.

Bagi kampus-kampus yang sanggup bertahan, bagaimana mereka bisa memanfaatkan pandemi untuk melakukan lompat katak (leapfrog)? Abdul Wahid Maktub, penasehat khusus Menteri Riset, Teknologi dan Pendidikan Tinggi (2015-2020), menyarankan begini. Kampus, katanya, perlu kembali kepada hakikatnya. “Hakikat pendidikan adalah membantu anak didik untuk mengenal diri dan lingkungannya. Jadi, tidak mengajar mereka untuk sekadar menghapal, tetapi juga harus mampu mengaitkan data dengan fenomena yang terjadi di masyarakat, sehingga anak didik mampu memiliki pemikiran yang prediktif,” jelasnya Abdul Wahid, panjang lebar.

Abdul Wahid juga menjadi salah satu pembicara dalam webinar Peluang di Masa Pandemi untuk Leapfrog dalam Pendidikan, Kamis akhir Januari lalu. Katanya lagi, “Banyak lembaga pendidikan yang hanya membuat anak didik pintar sesaat, namun ketika terjadi perubahan, mereka tidak memiliki daya tahan. Maka, penting bagi lembaga pendidikan untuk memberikan pendidikan karakter, percaya diri, kemandirian, daya tahan, termasuk mampu berkomunikasi dan berkolaborasi.”

Pembicara lainnya dalam webinar itu adalah Prof. Dr. Ir. Budi Susilo Soepandji, DEA, Gubernur Lembaga Pertahanan Nasional (2011-2016) yang kini menjadi Ketua Yayasan Pendidikan Universitas Presiden. Menurut Prof. Budi, kampus perlu memanfaatkan pandemi ini untuk menjadi lebih kolaboratif dengan dunia industri. “Jadi, riset yang dilakukan kampus-kampus harus terkait dengan kebutuhan industri. Bukan hanya untuk kebutuhan dirinya sendiri,” tegas Prof. Budi.

Sementara, SD Darmono, pendiri President University dan Grup Jababeka, yang juga ikut serta dalam diskusi pada webinar tersebut, menekankan ketersediaan jaringan internet sebagai faktor kunci dalam lompat katak di dunia pendididikan. “Dengan adanya internet, kita bisa belajar dengan siapa saja, dari mana saja, dan kapan saja, secara online. Ini membuat kegiatan perkuliahan menjadi lebih fleksibel,” katanya.

Lalu, terkait dengan pandemi, Darmono melihatnya begini. Pandemi memang membuat banyak perusahaan kesulitan. Salah satunya, kesulitan untuk membayar pegawai-pegawainya. “Dengan sistem perkuliahan yang lebih fleksibel, sebetulnya mahasiswa bisa bekerja di perusahaan-perusahaan tersebut. Mereka bisa bekerja sambil terus belajar. Oleh karena sambil belajar, perusahaan mungkin tak harus menggaji mahasiswa dengan harga yang terlalu mahal. Jadi, ini win-win situation. Perusahaan, yang tengah menghadapi kesulitan akibat pandemi, bisa mendapatkan tenaga kerja dengan upah yang kompetitif. Sementara, di sisi lain mahasiswa yang membutuhkan uang untuk membayar biaya kuliah bisa bekerja sambil terus belajar,” paparnya.

Ia menutup paparannya dengan menegaskan, “Pengetahuan itu kalau tidak dipraktekkan, tidak akan membuat kita menjadi semakin pandai.”

Itulah sejumlah gagasan lompat katak yang perlu dilakukan oleh dunia pendidikan di masa pandemi Covid-19. Silakan pilih mana yang lebih cocok. (JBS dan Silvia Desi Betrice, tim PR).