Indonesia: Limited internet connection, lack of facility hamper students’ online learning during COVID-19 pandemic

Indonesia: Limited internet connection, lack of facility hamper students’ online learning during COVID-19 pandemic

Despite the relaxed large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), not all schools in Indonesia are ready to reopen, given the rise in the new numbers of COVID-19 cases, forcing students to study from home.

Indonesia is one of the 25 countries with the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections, with 102,051 confirmed cases as of Tuesday (28 July).

Earlier this month, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan announced that the Jakarta administration was not ready to reopen schools given that children are the vulnerable groups to the COVID-19.

The central government’s plan to resume school activities in areas declared green zones—safe from the virus—was strongly opposed by the Indonesian Teachers’ Union Federation (FSGI) as the reopening of schools may lead to a new COVID-19 cluster.

Not all students enjoy a stable internet connection

The data from Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) on 27 July showed that nearly 45.3 million students from the academic year of 2017/2018 have been forced to study from home due to the pandemic that has infected more than 16 million people globally.

However, not all Indonesian students can enjoy doing online tasks with a fast and stable internet connection. Students have to climb to a high hill in the country’s remote areas to enjoy a permanent connection to support their distant learning activities.

Students in Tlogoharjo Village, Wonogiri in Central Java province, had to study at the Jambul Hill to find a better internet connection, Fajar reported.

“If the signal is weak, we help each other by lending each other’s mobile phones as we cannot charge our devices,” one of the students explained the challenges.

Students in three villages in Pagar Alam, South Sumatera, have to do the same thing by entering forests and reaching hills to study with the stable connection, INews reported.

“We have been doing this (climbing the hill) since the implementation of online learning due to the COVID-19. No signal at home, so we have to find signals in this hill,” Laili, one of the students, told Inews on 24 July.

Parents must spend extra budgets for the internet quota, and not all students have supporting gadgets

Studying from home means that all families must have supporting devices and allocate extra budget to top up the internet cost. Most parents—who are also forced to work from home—have to provide extra laptops or gadgets for their children. Sometimes they share their mobile phones with their children, distracting their focuses.

“Online learning is often ineffective as my sons are enjoying playing online games more than studying, wasting the internet quota and their time,” a mother of three sons in Jakarta told TOC.

M Nazilul Mutaqin in Malang, East Java, has to borrow his neighbour’s smartphone to study. However, he cannot rely on the smartphone if his neighbour works, Times Indonesia reported.

The 10-year-old parents are farmworkers with a daily income of Rp 50,000. They have asked their son’s class teacher to understand the condition if Nazilul has yet to finish his homework.

Assuming a student need Rp100,000 for internet access, the total spending on internet for all Indonesian students to use online learning may reach Rp 4.52 trillion.

As not all parts of Indonesia have a good Internet connection and even electricity supply, the country’s Ministry of Education and Culture is pushed to resolve these issues quickly.

“For example, a family receives a social aid worth Rp 600,000. However, the internet cost for a student may reach more than Rp 200,000. If they have more than one kid? The quota is huge,” Mr Tauhid Ahmad, Executive Director at INDEF, told Detik.

The ministry stated that funding for Internet quota for online learning purposes can be derived from the School Operational Aid (BOS) as stipulated in the ministry’s regulations.

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