The Merdeka Curriculum launched by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia in February 2022 raises many pros and cons. The Independent Curriculum provides opportunities for students to learn about things close to their daily lives (local content), such as the surrounding natural environment, through cross-disciplinary learning, which is not accommodated by national subjects.
For nature conservation organizations such as Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN), this is a golden opportunity to educate school students about the condition of the environment and nature around them, as well as ways to preserve or improve it. YKAN seeks this golden opportunity through the Mangrove Ecosystem Restoration Alliance (MERA) Program in one of its work locations, namely the coastal area of Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) Regency, South Sumatra.
OKI Coast has a mangrove ecosystem area of 40,014.44 hectares, which provides various environmental benefits to the surrounding community. However, the mangrove areas on the OKI coast, especially those in protected forests, are increasingly being degraded yearly due to the conversion of mangrove areas into ponds. Around 70% of community ponds on OKI coast are in protected forests.
One of the strategies carried out by MERA in this program is awareness-raising activities through the school curriculum. In collaboration with the OKI Education Office, the South Sumatra Education Quality Assurance Agency (BPMP), and the South Sumatra Teacher Mobilization Center (BGP), MERA facilitated the preparation of modules and educational content related to mangrove ecosystems that teachers on OKI coast can use.
This step was taken through the Pancasila Student Profile Strengthening Project (P5), available in the Merdeka Curriculum. The learning activities in P5 will help students observe and think of solutions to problems in their surroundings. The hope is that environmental education encourages students in the future to actively participate in preserving the environment where they live or not to be involved in activities that damage their home environment.
Since November 2022, the OKI Education Office has formed a "Module P5 Development Team on Mangrove Ecosystems" of 13 elementary school teachers in OKI District. By the end of March 2023, the Drafting Team had completed Module P5. Several OKI coast schools will pilot this module in the new academic year in July 2023.
Tarmudik, Head of the Elementary Schools Division of the OKI Education Office, revealed that preparing and implementing the P5 Independent Curriculum module in OKI Districts for the elementary school level is still relatively rare. Therefore, this activity is an initiative that supports the implementation of the P5 Module and the Independent Curriculum in OKI District.
MERA initiative benefits teachers who have been and will be involved in this activity. The Independent Curriculum will be implemented nationally in 2024 under the name National Curriculum, but not all teachers have received training related to this curriculum. Therefore, the training and mentoring process facilitated by MERA can help the teachers implement it in the national curriculum in 2024 and become mentors for other teachers who have never received Independent Curriculum assistance.
"Thank you to the MERA Program, which supports raising students' awareness in Ogan Komering Ilir Regency about preserving mangrove ecosystems by developing teaching materials with an Independent Curriculum. This will help students understand sustainable natural resource management," said Ullya, Widyaprada BPMP South Sumatra.