Access to Education for Refugee Children in Indonesia During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Adaptation Strategies
Keywords:Accessibility, COVID-19 Pandemic, Indonesia, Refugee Children, Rights to Education
The protracted refugee situation in Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased refugee children's vulnerability due to the non-fulfillment of their fundamental rights, including the right to education. Drawing on data collected through interviews and observation of refugee children during fieldwork in the cities of Batam and Makassar, this paper aims to investigate how and why their access to education has changed during the pandemic. This study finds that, shortly before the pandemic, the Indonesian government provided access to education for refugee children through the issuance of the Circular Letter from the Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology Number 752553/A.A4/HK/2019 dated on 10 July 2019. However, the pandemic complicated the accessibility of education for refugee children suggested by the Circular Letter due to lockdown policy and mobility restrictions. The complication is apparent in four aspects of accessibility, namely: access to information, activities in the learning process, environmental support, and the motivation of refugee children. Notwithstanding, this study also finds that the pandemic has induced developments of adaptation strategies through the adoption of online learning among refugee communities to enable wider access to education for refugee children. Therefore, the pandemic may have revealed the urgency for a more rights-based policy on refugee treatment in Indonesia.
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