The HEAD Foundation has joined forces with Yayasan Fondasi Hidup (FH), an NGO based in Medan, North Sumatera, to bring Sekolah Enuma Indonesia (SEI) to children in disaster-stricken areas, helping them continue their studies as communities rebuild. Harnessing the power of digital technology, SEI provides children in remote areas with access to quality educational content, enabling them to gain new knowledge and skills through interactive lessons, educational games, and captivating videos. FH’s staff and volunteers encourage children to pursue their studies and offer the necessary support for them to flourish despite adversity.
The Transformative Impact of SEI: Nuraeni and Siti Rosita’s Stories
On November 21, 2022, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake rocked the city of Cianjur in West Java, Indonesia, with its epicentre 10 km southwest of the city. The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) reported 334 fatalities, 642 injuries, and 114,683 evacuations. Furthermore, 29,679 houses and 525 schools were damaged.
Nuraeni (8) and Siti Rosita (5) were among many children affected by the Cianjur earthquake. The disaster exacerbated Nuraeni’s difficulty in connecting with her peers, making her more fearful and anxious. In contrast, Siti Rosita seemed unfazed by the earthquake’s aftermath, perhaps because she was too young to comprehend the situation. Both families, however, were deeply traumatised by the loss of their homes. While Nuraeni’s family now lives in a modest rented house without a toilet, Siti Rosita’s family remains in an evacuation shelter as their home, deemed heavily damaged, is being rebuilt by the government.
SEI’s arrival as a digital emergency school has had a profound impact on the children affected by the Cianjur earthquake. By providing both educational and psychosocial support, SEI helps children recover from the shock of the disaster, encouraging them to continue their education and temporarily escape their difficult circumstances. Catering to children from preschool to grade 3, SEI teaches basic literacy and numeracy skills through digital games and interactive educational content. The curriculum is tailored to children’s cognitive development, allowing them to engage in learning activities with minimal supervision. FH introduced SEI to displaced children via their Kids Club, which is part of the Tent for Emergency, Playing, and Learning (TERPAL) project in Cianjur.
Nuraeni and Siti Rosita are two of the 463 children who attended the Kids Club. Before the earthquake, Nuraeni’s school attendance was inconsistent, and she stopped going altogether due to her fear of aftershocks destroying the school building. After joining the Kids Club and experiencing SEI, Nuraeni formed friendships with other kids and enjoyed learning together with them. In February 2023, she returned to school, displaying increased cheerfulness and reduced fear during aftershocks. Similarly, Siti Rosita stopped attending school in July 2022 because no family member could accompany her, and the earthquake intensified her reluctance to return to school. However, participating in the earthquake shelter’s SEI-based learning programme motivated her to study with her friends, and she also returned to school in February 2023. Encouraged by her daughter’s newfound enthusiasm, Siti Rosita’s mother now takes her to school daily, where she thrives in kindergarten with a renewed passion for learning.
The TERPAL project (December 2022 – April 2023) has been instrumental in reigniting the educational desires of children like Nuraeni and Siti Rosita. In addition to engaging with SEI, they have participated in activities such as playing, singing, and drawing with their friends. Both children expressed enjoyment when using their tablets for SEI’s exciting games and videos. Together, the TERPAL project and SEI have revitalised Nuraeni and Siti Rosita’s interest in learning, instilling in them a renewed enthusiasm for education.
The collaboration between The HEAD Foundation and Fondasi Hidup in bringing Sekolah Enuma Indonesia to disaster-affected areas has demonstrated the profound impact that digital education and community support can have on children’s lives. As more young learners like Nuraeni and Siti Rosita benefit from these resources, a brighter and more resilient future emerges for those overcoming the challenges of disaster.