THE ROLE OF LEARNING RESOURCES CENTER

THE ROLE OF LEARNING RESOURCES CENTER

 IN IMPROVING THE ACCESS AND QUALTIY OF EDUCATION

 By B.P. Sitepu*

State University of Jakarta

 Abstract

Many countries are still facing a lot of problems in providing equal opportunity to have education for their citizens on the one hand and to improve the education quality on the other hand. Beside the economic problems,  manpower as well as social and cultural problems  often hinder the countries to fulfill the committment of no child left behind (NCLB) and lifelong education. Meanwhile in the globalization era strict competition in profesional manpower supply has forced each country to improve the quality of their education not to be the consumers of the products of other countries including in manpower sector. This paper discusses how learning resourses centers  (LRC) can be developed and benefitted to educate all people and  provide quality education both in formal  and non-formal education. The discussion concludes that LRC which is well planned and properly managed  can function and give significant contribution to developing learning society and establishing educated society. To focus the discussion, Indonesia is selected as a case study as this country has a large population with a unique geographic location and condition. The paper recommends that the Indonesian Government should support and facilitate community learning resources center to provide all Indonesians with ample opportunity to learn. All educational institutions and training centers should be encouraged to function and develop their LRCs to serve the students’ learning needs.

Key words: Access to eduaction, quality of education, resource-based learning, Learning Resources Center, community reading center.  

 A. INTRODUCTION

The decades since World War II may well be termed the Age of Education. Education is called upon to alleviate poverty, to serve as the vanguard in directing social and economic change, and as the means for individual self-improvement. Education also functions as the means for transforming traditional societies to learning and educated societies. Education has become a basic need and everyone has the right to get education as stipulated in the Article 13 of Human Rights. This article recognizes the right of everyone to education. This is to be directed towards the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity and enable all persons to participate effectively in the society.  Education is seen both as a human right and as an indispensable means of realizing other human rights.

To the less-developing nations, confronted by a widening disparity between themselves and the more-developing and industrialized nations, the attraction of education to enhance their development  is apparent. In many countries education  is viewed as an integral part of national development not only as economic growth but opportunities to all people for better life with man as the end of development and instrument. Education is believed as one of  important efforts in improving the quality of human resources with the competences containing knowledge, skills and attitude needed for individual development and national development. It is in this light education becomes a basic need. enhanced his or her development as individual. In this light education is also a basic need

The education role in human and nation development has strongly motivated many countries to implement compulsory education policy .Universalization of primary education is accorded high priority, with the activities focused on extension of educational opportunities for all children, retention of children in learning situations, and raising the efficiency of the system as a learning system. Society also must commit to learning through life and become a learning society which tends to incorporate notions of lifelong learning with it.  A learning society is often characterized as one in which all members are allowed and enabled to develop their knowledge and skills and attitude to learning. In learning society, education would confer status, there would be equal educational opportunities for all, with no economic and social barriers; students would be involved in decisions affecting their studies and communication of knowledge would be revolutionized by technology. (Dunne, 1999: 16)

Changes in the employment picture over the last  two decades have undoubtedly had an impact that has been felt by education institutions. The general shift in the skill requirements of the workforce has gone some way towards creating demand for higher level qualifications. Increasing opportunities in the service sector, alongside declining manufacturing and industrial careers, have dictated an emphasis on the importance of graduate-level skills both in hard skills and soft skills.. The pace of change in the workforce will require people to re-equip themselves, as new knowledge and skills are needed for economies to compete, survive, and prosper. The core skills in demand are knowledge, intellectual ability, ability to work in a modern organisation, interpersonal skills, and communication skills.

Technological developments have had a far-reaching impact on the population and this has been felt by all levels of education institution. Technological capabilities, such as internet and email access, and developing mobile phone technologies have been key factors in the increasing numbers of people working from home, thus affording them greater flexibility with their time. Learning is much more accessible, and the means are there to generate an interest in knowledge and learning without leaving home. The technology appears to be developing to meet the requirement of lifelong learning, and contributing to the democratisation of learning. Technological revolution gives a significant contribution to a lifelong learning system that allows everyone to learn almost everything from anywhere at any time.

The dynamic of education and its role in each society in development and transformation make it essential that education continuously renews itself in order to prepare for future. The renewal process in education manifests itself in the curriculum in its broadest sense and the various ways in which knowledge is communicated to learners. Regeluth (1994:8) identified a shift in education paradigm from industrial era to information era. resulted from the advancement of science and technology, the growing needs of industry and labor market. The paradigm shift changed the approaches in curriculum design, instructional process, and learning resources. In this information era, learners become the subjects and the instructional objectives and process are designed based on the learners’ needs and characteristics. Previously, classroom became the center of instructional activities while in this era the students can learn without border of space and time limit..

The education system can not neglect the significant and fast changes in culture, technology, economy, politics, and the existing environment and is demanded to develop its vision and mission accordingly. The highly developed information technology, that enables learners obtain abundant information on the subjects they are interested in, has to be well benefited in teaching and learning process.  The conventional instructional process on the basis of blackboard and chalk and teacher-oriented approach should be replaced on the basis of technology and .student-oriented approach. In the light of the new approaches in education, variety of learning resources are required to be developed and used to serve the learners’ needs ( Belt, 1997 & Warren, 2002). The role of teacher and lecture then changed to act more as an instruction designer and manager, tutor, and motivator serving the students to achieve their learning objectives.

To practice the new paradigm of education in real teaching-learning situation could raise some problems particularly in utilization of technology-based learning resources due to poor facilities, insufficient budget, and lack of professional manpower available in certain educational institutions. On the other hand many there are also many educational institutions developing and improving their services using resource-based learning approach properly. Consequently, the quality disparity among the educational institutions can not be avoided and create a serious problem in some countries.      

Educational rationale and financial pressures combine to produce new models of teaching and learning, including a greater emphasis on resource-based and independent learning approach. Learning Resources Center (LRC) has been developed to be an effective and efficient institution supporting the new models and this paper discusses the roles LRC as an alternative solution to deal with quality and equality problems in education faced by many developing countries. It is assumed that LRC which has various learning facilities and services can give contribution towards quality  improvement of instruction in educational institutions efficiently and it can be also developed for out-of school education to provide learning opportunity for people who do not have access to formal education. To focus the discussion, Indonesia is taken as a case study  under the consideration that this country has a large population and unique geographical feature.

B. LEARNING RESOURCES CENTER.

As in the new paradigm of education, learners become the active subjects in the instruction process and the individual learner’s needs to be fulfilled, it has to be noted that the learners have (a) different characteristics including learning styles, (b) different learning objectives, and (c) learning environments and learning facilities. These mean that providing learning experiences suitable to the individual learner requires various methods and learning resources. Learning resources are learning materials which include videos, books, audio cassettes, instructional video programs, graphic materials, overhead transparancy, and the combinations  of any of these medias (Merril & Drob, 1974). Further AECT (1986) identified learning resources such as message, people, equipment, materials, and mehods/procedures.In brief, learning resources can be classified as print, non-print and human resources.

Resource-based learning (RBL) is the instructional strategy where learners construct meaning through interaction with a wide range of print, non print and human resources. RBL, therefore, (a) has strong relationship to inquiry learning, project-based learning, and problem based learning, (b) provides opportunities for practicing information litracy skills and critical-thinking skills necessary to deal with the explosion of information that is available at our fingertips, (c) is learner-centred and allows them to discover knowledge for themselves, and (d) promotes the teacher as a facilitator and guide.

As RBL facilitates individual learner to learn according their characteristics and learning styles, it can be also applied for all kinds of learning situations either in or out of classroom, for formal education or non-formal education, for the purposes of open/distance/flexible learning. For the shake of efficiency and practicality, RBL approach is supported by Learning Resources Center (LRC) which is  the development of conventional library. With the existence of LRC, RBL approach is developed to be learning center approach.

Learning concept is a distinctive , learner-centered, responsive to supporting and improving the quality of student learning. The real distinctiveness of the learning center concept lies in its holistic approach to student learning. It is not just resource-based or even service-based, concerning with supporting a range of learning styles and student interaction with these resources and services. For the students, this approach seeks to meet their learning needs as a whole. This will be evident through integrated access, both physical and virtual, to a broad range of information, IT and learning resources. It has also the potential to extend beyond just supporting existing students needs, to influencing learning development and thus shaping the student learning environment. 

The essential characteristic of the learning approach is that it is actually centered on learning and is institutional teaching and learning strategy. This approach will be evident in the vision statement, mission statement, and objectives services, which will seek to place it firmly in the context of the organisation’s teaching and agenda. It may go even further, to project a learning development and an advancement of teaching, not just a support role for the service.

Part of the incentives for the development and adoption of the learning center approach has the prospect of finding cheaper and more flexible means of delivering courses to the students. The students with different learning styles can enrich their skills by using information and services provided by the learning center. Those whose life styles do not permit regular attendance at classes can drop in and work through multimedia and interactive packages.  Applying the learning center approach makes the role of traditional teacher potentially shrinking. The students may well be learning through state-of-the art package, which can be customized to meet individual needs and learning styles.

Organizational arrangements supporting a learning center approach must facilitate join working between academic services units to enable them deliver the learner-centered vision. Besides, the technician instructors in the learning center assist the students to meet their learning needs, particularly to make use of the hardware and software.

In the physical sense learning resources center (LRC) is a room or is set apart as a quite study center in which to use, or possibly store, the various learning resources on offer. From a psychological point of view it can be what you make it. If there is no appropriate room or one can not be made available for a learning resources center, some space could possibly be screened off. In an ideal situation the learning resources center would be purpose-designed to prove a good learning environment.

LRC is an organized activity consisting of director, staff, and equipment housed in one or more specialized facilities for the production, procurement, and presentation of instructional materials and the provision of developmental and planning services related to curriculum and teaching on a general campus university. The advantage of LRC is savings, improvement of instruction and institutional coherence. Centralization of procurement and utilization of instructional equipment, materials, and facilities results in saving of men, money, and time. The development of LRC can restore teaching and learning to the right positions. Some weakness in the teaching and learning process in the classroom can be overcome by using materials and equipment in LRC. Besides, services and various activities provided by LRC for all students and teachers can strengthen the institution coherence and LRC can function as symbolic of the dedication of the institution to the fostering of learning by students. (Oyston, 2003)

 C. LRC IN INDONESIA

Indonesia is still facing a number of problems in national education, some major of which are in access, quality, and management (Despines 2006). These crucial problems seem to be classic as these have been identified by Beeby (1987) since early in seventies.

Article 31 of 1945 Constitution regulates among others that every Indonesian citizen is guaranteed to have access to education. However this regulation has not been perfectly fulfilled. The data shows that 9.6 % the population of 15 and above 15 year age are still illiterate and net participation rates of school age children are below 100 % as shown in the following table.

Table 1. The Participation Rate of  School Age Children

by  Age Group (2005/2006)

NO AGE GROUP(Years) NUMBER(%)
1 5   –      6 80.73
2 7    –     12 94.44
3 13   –    15 86.48
4 52   –    18 52.48

The data in Table 1 indicates that although the program of nine year universal education has been implemented since 1995,  there are still a number of school age children do not have access to formal education. From the age of seven years  the older the children, the less opportunity for them to get access to formal education, Moreover, the participation rate of higher education age (19 -24 years) is  only 14.6 %.

The access to education can be also reflected in drop out rates and continuation rates as shown in the following table.

Table 2. The drop rates and Continuation Rate

By Level of Education (2005/2006)

NO LEVEL OF EDUCATION DROP OUT(%) CONTINU-ATION(%)
1 Primary Education 2.9 7.9
2 Junior Secondary Education 1.78 19.06
3 Senior Secondary Education (General) 1.65 54.78
4 Senior Secondary Education (Vocational) 5.08
5 Higher Education 12.79  

Source:Pusat Statistik, 2006

The drop and continuation rates as indicated in Table 2 prove that not all school age children have equal opportunity to have access to get formal education particularly to higher education. The data in Table 1 and 2 also show the decreasing continuation rate from a lower level to a higher level.

The problems in education quality are reflected in the teacher qualification, repetition rate, national examination, and unemployment rate. To be professional in performing their job as a teacher, they are expected to have good professional, pedagogical, social, and character competencies. Based on the data of 2004 (Depdiknas 2004) beside the mismatch of the teacher specialization to the subjects they are teaching, there are still a big number of under qualified teachers in each level of education as shown in the following table.

Table 3. The Percentage of Under Qualified Teacher

In Primary and Secondary Education (2004)

NO LEVEL OF EDUCATION %
1 Primary Education 49.3
2 Junior Secondary Education 36
3 Senior Secondary Education (General) 33
4 Senior Secondary Education (Vocational) 43

       Source: Depdiknas 2006

 

The significant number of under qualified teachers as stated in the Table 2 undoubtedly will give negative effect to the quality of instructional process and the student learning achievement in the primary and secondary education. While in higher education the minimum qualification of the faculty is expected to be postgraduate with master degree. In fact, the percentages of master degree and doctorate degree are only 54.5 % for government higher education institutions and 34.5 % for private higher education.  These percentages indicate, the quality of higher education in general has not been as expected.

The quality of education personnel in non-formal education is not much different from those in formal education. The picture of educational background of tutors is as follows.

 

 

Table 4. The qualification of Tutors in Non-formal Education

Based on Educational Background (2004)

NO LEVEL OF EDUCATION NUMBER
1 Master Degree 210 (6.1%)
2 S1 Degree 2,047 (59.6%)
3 Diploma 175 (5.1%)
4 Senior Secondary Education or Less 1,000 (29.2%)
TOTAL 3,432 (100%)

      Source: Depdiknas 2006

 

The tutors on non-formal education are assigned to assist the learners to improve their skills through some learning packages such as Package A equivalent to Primary Education, Package B equivalent to Junior Secondary Education, and Package C equivalent to Senior Secondary Education. Besides, the tutors also organize life skill courses in the communities. However to provide quality services the number and the tutor’s number and their educational background need to be improved.

The data presented in Tabel 1,2, 3, and 4 just to ilustrate that Indonesia still fase crucial problems in access and quantity of education. There are obviuosly more evidences which can be used as indicators to support those problems. The Indonesian Government realizes that the education problems are urgent to be handled simultaneously in primary, secondary and tertiary education. In the line with nine years’ basic education program (six years’ primary education and three years’ junior secondary education) great efforts have been given to improve the education facilities to accommodate the school age children, to revise the curricula, to recruit new teachers and upgrade the quality of the existing teachers through in- or on-service trainings and degree programs. The budget for education has also increased to meet 20 % of national budget as demanded in the 1945 Constitution. The improvement has also been done in higher education. However, the problems of equity and quantity of education have not been completely solved due to the complexity of the problems on one hand and limited capability on the other hand. (Depdiknas 2006).

As one of the biggest constrains in handling the equity and quality of education is scarce resources for education, developing Learning Resources Centers (LRC) in formal and non-formal education could become a potential solution. As described previously, benefiting LRC can both giving more opportunity to the students and improving the quality of education. Empowering LRC can be started by using the facilities available at every school and higher education.

However based on the observation to some universities and survey to a number of schools the facts show in a number of schools particularly those assisted under CLLC-Unesco-Unicef, MBE USAID, and NGO, resource based learning approach has been implemented and proved the quality improvement of students’ learning achievement. These schools become model and encourage the surrounding schools to follow (USAID, 2008). But most of primary and secondary schools have not implemented resource based learning approach and the instructional processes tend to be teacher centered. (Yuhetty, 2006). The observation to a number of primary and secondary schools I Lampung Province indicate (a) almost all of the teachers do not optimize the utilization of learning resources available at schools, (b)  ITC-based learning equipment are not available at most of the schools, (c) teaching aids, laboratory, and library are not properly maintained,  (d) no professional staff available to manage the existing learning resources, and all of the schools express their need for developing learning resources. (Sitepu, 2008)

The development and empowerment of LRC at higher education seem not much different from those in elementary and secondary education. The existing LRCs do not function properly and are underutilized. This condition also happens at State University of Jakarta.

In non formal education an interesting phenomenon is happening. Up to present a number of learning resources have been developing in the societies which can be developed to become learning centers. These learning resources named as Community Learning Activity Center (PKBM and SKB), Community Reading Centers (TBM), and Mobile Libraries, can be developed to Learning Resources Centers to provide opportunity for everybody to learn in non-formal education. According to the existing data, there are more than 5,000 Community Reading Centers organized and managed by local communities and spread out all over Indonesia and 1,029 of them are registered in the Directorate of Mass Education. (Direktorat Pendidikan Masyarakat, 2006).  Community Reading Centers (CRC) basically provide reading materials such as novels, magazines, and some reference books for local community but these LRCs can be developed to become LRCs serving learning facilities to everybody.

Realizing the important and strategic role of CRC, which most of them are located among the communities including in the rural areas, the Government has been encouraging people to establish and develop CRC by giving financial assistance and training. Some of the LRC are developing their activities by organizing practical short courses for local community such as literacy courses and life skill courses. However the LRCs have not developed to be real LRC.

CRC can be developed and managed functioning as LRC by enriching its collections not only printed reading materials but also ITC- based facilities based on the local needs, providing various courses and creating reading and learning societies. The development of CRC to be LRC can encourage the people to learn and give opportunity to them for life long learning. Similar to CRC, mobile library is also potential to be develop do become LRC and can promote learning to more people.

The development of LRC at schools and higher education and CRC to function as LRC needs professional personnel who can plan and provide appropriate services to meet users’ need and to make learning joyful. These jobs are widely open for the graduates of Educational Technology Programs, particularly after the Government issued the regulation of Instructional Development Profession through Decree of Ministry of Government Apparatus No. PER/2M.PAN/3/2009.

D. CONCLUSION

In implementing the new paradigm of education, resource learning approach will encourage the students to master the skill of how to learn and learn independenly.This approach will be more successful if educational institution is equipped with Learning Resources Center. The discussion in this paper is of the opinion that beside improving the quality of instructional process and learning achievement of the students, the existence and utilization of LRC could give the students more access to learn.

The access and quality problems in education faced by Indonesia can be solved among others by developing LRCs in the formal and non-formal education. The Community Reading Centers (LRC) among the communities are very potential to be developed to function as LRC.

The discussion recommends all educational institutions in Indonesia to develop and take benefit of all learning resources in each institution under coordination and management of LRC for the shake of efficiency and effectiveness. In line with this idea, the graduates of Educational Technology Programs are expected to play important roles professionally as these tasks have been supported by Government policy through the regulation issued by Minister of Government Apparatus No. PER/2M.PAN/3/2009.   

 

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* Presented in International Seminar, INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY INTO EDUCATION

In Jakarta, 17 – 18 May 2010, Organized by IPTPI

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One thought on “THE ROLE OF LEARNING RESOURCES CENTER

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