Indonesian education platform makes teachers ‘agents of transformation’
By Mochamad Azhar
The Merdeka Mengajar (PMM) platform is designed as a collaborative learning ecosystem where teachers and educators interact with each other about effective learning methods. GovInsider spoke to leaders in GovTech Edu to learn more.
Minister Nadiem Makarim encourages teachers to increase their competence and creativity through the Merdeka Mengajar Platform: Source: Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology
Indonesian Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology Nadiem Makarim is widely known in Indonesia as a reformer who uses innovative methods to transform the public sector.
Speaking to GovInsider some time ago, Nadiem shared that he believes that the education system in Indonesia will improve through the use of technology and he is willing to take risks in the transformation process.
One of the innovations he has recently announced is the Merdeka Mengajar Platform (PMM).
PMM is a superapp which functions as a learning platform for teachers to access learning features, gain inspiration and improve their teaching abilities.
This year, PMM has reached 3.1 million teachers and 350,000 schools throughout Indonesia.
GovTech Edu and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology (Kemendikbudristek) make up the team behind PMM and transforming Indonesia’s education sector through technology.
GovInsider speaks to GovTech Edu, an independent unit within Telkom Indonesia, Indonesia’s largest telecommunications provider, to find out more about how it is implementing Minister Nadiem’s vision.
Supporting three million teachers on one platform
Ruth Ayu Hapsari, Head of Tribe Merdeka Mengajar GovTech Edu, explained that PMM was launched in 2021, the same time when the country’s new curriculum, Merdeka Curriculum, was launched.
“The essence of the independent curriculum is flexibility. Because of this, the learning methods contained in PMM are made more adaptive and contextual according to the needs of teachers, teaching staff, and the school," said Ayu.
Why does PMM focus on teachers? This is because the agents of change in the national education system are teachers and education personnel. The learning materials that teachers get from PMM can be directly applied to the teaching and learning process in the classroom.
PMM also supports standardisation of education quality by providing wider access for teachers to take part in trainings organized by the government.
"Previously only teachers in certain areas could enjoy training. Now, all teachers throughout Indonesia can develop their competencies on the platform," Ayu continued.
Putri Lestari, Head of Content at GovTech Edu, said that almost 100% of the learning content contained in PMM is contributed by teachers. Currently, there are 400,000 learning materials that have been uploaded by more than 100,000 teachers throughout Indonesia. This includes 17,000 teaching materials that are ready to be downloaded.
Some content is uploaded by the teachers while some are accompanied and curated by the Ministry and the GovTech Edu content team.
Collaborative space for teachers
Kautsar Anggakara, Head of Design and Research at GovTech Edu, stated that PMM is different from technological interventions in other public sectors which often only provide standards and tools for end users.
However, not all teachers and educators have the same pedagogical ability to articulate these standards and tools.
"Because of this, PMM is not designed as a prescriptive channel, but a channel that is interactive, collaborative, and involves the teacher community throughout Indonesia," Angga continued.
PMM also provides participatory features through 'Evidence of Work' and 'Good Practices', where each teacher can interact, exchange ideas, and contribute to learning methods that can be used as references for other teachers.
"The large number of 'Proof of Work' and 'Good Practices' uploads from teachers shows that the platform we provide has succeeded in bringing benefits to teachers and creating a good community," said Angga.
However, PMM statistics are not the main benchmark the team wants to achieve. The quality of the information presented and the depth of interaction between teachers are becoming increasingly important in determining the success and sustainability of this program.
The Ministry and Govtech Edu believe that all teachers and educational staff in Indonesia have the natural ability to continue learning, developing themselves, and sharing learning methods with each other. The role of technology helps to scale this further.
"The most touching part of PMM is the emergence of teachers' sense of pride in carrying out their profession. There was a change in mindset as teachers were increasingly interested in continuing to create innovation and develop new, fresher methods," said Angga.
Collaboration and sustainability
Collaboration and co-creation are keywords in developing every product at Govtech Edu. Every product, feature and learning content in PMM is the result of discussions, collaboration and workshops, involving the technology team and the Ministry of Education and Culture.
GovTech Edu partners with the Ministry in each province to increase the platform's reach to teachers and educational staff in the regions. The education department helps the GovTech team to teach the Merdeka Curriculum and invites teacher communities to actively join PMM.
Kevin Arffandy, Head of Brand & Communications at GovTech Edu, underlined the equal partnership between the Ministry of Education and Culture and GovTech Edu. “The ministry treats its technology team as thinking partners so that every product we make is truly problem-focused.”
This article was originally written in Bahasa Indonesia here, and has been translated by Yogesh Hirdaramani.