We The Teachers' founder Amanda Witdarmono, center, and Zenius' co-founder Sabda P.S., right, appear in a seminar in Jakarta on Tuesday. (JG Photo/Diana Mariska)

Education Startup-NGO Partnership to Relieve Teachers' Administrative Burden


NOVEMBER 19, 2019

Jakarta. Among the myriad of obstacles facing teachers in Indonesia, administrative duties and lack of access to education materials are some of the most pressing, bad enough to prevent them from providing quality, up-to-date education for their students, activists warned on Tuesday. 

Teachers find it hard to improve their skills or explore more creative teaching methods because they are preoccupied with administrative tasks and unable to get even the most basic reference books.  

"Every teacher has to prepare a lesson plan before they start a class. The plan is meant to help teachers deliver lessons that suit their students' needs. However, teachers often don't have enough time to make them. So instead of helping them, it just becomes another time-consuming administrative duty," Amanda Witdarmono, the founder of non-profit organization We The Teachers (WTT), said during a seminar in Jakarta. 

"Preparing the lesson plans eats up time that the teachers could have used to develop more creative teaching methods," she said.

Lack of access to the most up-to-date teaching materials poses another major issue for teachers, particularly in remote areas. 

"It's much easier for teachers in Jakarta, for example, to get the latest teaching materials for their own self-development. That's not the case for teachers in second-tier cities or rural areas," Amanda said.

Sabda P.S., the founder of online learning platform Zenius, said his startup has been collaborating with WTT to try to find solutions for these two particular issues. 

"Fifty percent of teachers' workloads are administration-related – keeping records of student attendance, making lesson plans, grading homework, writing quizzes, etc. Zenius provides around 80,000 learning videos and 50,000 quiz and exam templates in almost all subjects. Teachers can use them for free to reduce their administrative workload and to complement the teaching materials they already have," Sabda said.

According to Sabda, digitalization will never totally replace teachers. 

"Learning comprises more aspects – including cognitive, affective and psychomotor – than technology can replace. But technology might help teachers in the cognitive field so they have more time to focus on the affective elements," Sabda said. 

Teachers will always remain influential figures for their students and thus should be better equipped to inspire them, he said.

The collaboration between Zenius and WTT is also expected to come up with a solution for improving access to educational materials.

Zenius helps by distributing the materials for free, while WTT provides training and workshop for teachers across Indonesia, including in remote areas. 

"One of them [we've been working in] is Sambas, a district in West Kalimantan. We do mentoring, we monitor its impact – does it impact the students' grade? We want to help students achieve better grades and also improve their general cognitive skills," Amanda said.

Zenius also offers a solution for the often lamented lack of internet connection in remote areas. 

"We have the Zenius Box, a small server containing teaching and educational materials from our database that can be accessed offline," Sabda said.