Asst. Prof. Dr. Budi Waluyo, Walailak University lecturer and winner of the Fulbright Presidential Scholarship, 2015 championed disadvantaged students’ free and comprehensive online platform called Sekolah TOEFL to assist students restrained by disadvantaged conditions in scoring as required on a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) putting them on par with other applicants to win international scholarships.
The Sekolah TOEFL initiative was an online program addressing issues faced by students wanting to apply for international scholarship, but living in disadvantaged conditions, characterized by geographical or financial difficulties. Asst. Prof. Dr. Budi mentioned as part of his speech at TEDX Lehigh event in 2015 about the disadvantaged condition not being defined by learners’ remote location alone but including unavailability of financial resources to fund a preparation course or even take an exam worth almost 7,000 THB in Thai currency.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Budi Waluyo, Walailak University lecturer and winner of the Fulbright Presidential Scholarship, 2015
“So, disadvantaged condition is the condition limiting them students from having more educational opportunities, financial resources or knowledge about scholarship opportunities” said Asst. Prof. Dr. Budi and this the gap deterring students from winning degree scholarships.
As a result, Sekolah TOEFL, meaning School for TOEFL in Indonesia, was launched in May 2015 while he was studying a PhD program at Lehigh University, the US under the Fulbright Presidential Scholarship. Shortly after the program’s registration had been open, over 2,000 Indonesians registered for the program and the number instantly grew to finish at almost 5,000 after a month.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Budi emphasized, “this is where I felt reassured that the gap is really there.”
Partaking in this program, the students were able to access learning materials grouped into each level of skills which they could print out to review the lessons. Sekola TOEFL operates via three platforms, namely personal blog, Facebook and WhatsApp, compensating for slow internet connection and serving distinctive purposes. While weekly meetings were set on Sekolah Facebook page, course materials for printouts and channels for live and instant interaction between the students and teacher were made possible by Asst. Prof. Dr. Budi’s personal blog and WhatsApp.
Finally, Asst. Prof. Dr. Budi concluded that judging students’ performance when they live in a condition deprived of a privilege to learn to do it is not sensible. That is why he has been giving back to the society not only as a Fulbrighter but also an educator determined to fill the gap and make opportunities to study overseas accessible to all students. Since 2015, the program has assisted over 100,000 Indonesians in obtaining education and scholarships.
Fulbright Enrichment Seminar, Pittsburgh, USA
Asst. Prof. Dr. Budi Waluyo was one of the five winners, among 2,000 Indonesian applicants winning the Fulbright Presidential Scholarship 2015, recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious degree scholarship. He has been working as a lecturer of School of Languages and General Education (SOLGEN), Walailak University and addressing educational issues both locally and globally, including English Language Teaching (ELT), Educational Technology, and International Education. His scholarly contribution as a researcher to the field is recognized in top-ranking international journals in ELT.
Please follow the link below for a TedX Lehigh speech given under the title “Bridging the unseen gap” on YouTube.
News by Nootchanat Sukkaew
Division of Corporate Communication (DCC)