The Story of Dwi Ika Setiawaty, the Teacher Who Teaches with a Walkie-Talkie

Hi, my name is Dwi Ika Setiawaty, family and friends call me Ika or Ms. Ika. I teach 1st and 2nd graders in elementary school in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. I have taught at this school since 2005.

Miss Dwi Ika Setiawaty

When the School from Home (SFH) policy was first enforced, teachers at the school, including myself, were taken aback. People in other villages may be able to use Android smartphones that are connected to the internet. However, our village is so remote, we are located in the mountains. Even normal cellular network is very weak in our village. Fortunately, I met a young man in my village who has been using a Walkie-talkie or Handheld Transreceiver (HT) since February 2019. From there, the idea to use a Walkie-talkie as a learning medium was born, since the device is practical and does not require mobile data plans. All of the villagers have agreed to use this gadget and are in support of the implementation.

Exactly at 7 in the morning, I am ready with my Walkie-talkie to greet the students while singing. Then, I commence the lesson by taking their attendance. I teach five classes per day with a total of 38 students.

Now I distribute assignments to the students, taking turns, beginning from the first class to the fifth. During the lesson, students are usually accompanied by their parents until it concludes at 12pm. Honestly, this daily duration is not enough for me to cover some materials. Thus, I still monitor my students, particularly to remind them to do their assignments instead of playing with the Walkie-talkie. I also remind them to do their daily prayers. Such assistance via Walkie-talkie may last until 9pm.

Our school owns two Walkie-talkie units and opens up two frequency networks. Frequency 1 for 1st to 3rd graders, and Frequency 2 for 4th to 5th graders. As such, the learning process can be more effective. Initially, when we first applied this method, I could hear the voices of other children who were playing outside coming into the transreceiver and disturbing the lesson. Hence, we had discussions with parents to ensure that such disturbances would not happen again. Thankfully, we have been able to solve this problem.

I am truly grateful that I can continue teaching my students through this Walkie-talkie medium. Because no matter the condition, students have to earn their rights to learn and receive education.

Written by: Irwansyah & Jatmoko/ Ciptanti Putri | Illustration: Aida Rahma | Translated by: Siti Fatimah Ayuningdyah