Indonesians no longer have WiFi and trade plastic waste to study online
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JAKARTA / BOGOR: When the coronavirus pandemic forced Indonesian schools to close, it became apparent that millions of households in the Southeast Asian country still did not have access to the internet or even a device such as a mobile phone to provide distance learning.

Therefore, students and volunteers have found creative ways to get around the problem.

For the past two months, 15-year-old Dimas Anwar Putra and a friend have been collecting plastic waste in their Jakarta neighborhood for WiFi access.

Since there is no internet access at home, the two students have to collect a kg of plastic waste to enable access to the internet so that they can study online for about three hours up to three times a week.

“When we collect rubbish, it’s like a charity to me and we also get free internet data,” said Dimas.

The “wireless station” is an idea by Iing Solihin, who sells student-collected rubbish to buy data that costs 340,000 rupiah ($ 22) a month for small groups of students to study.

“The problem is if the internet data runs out before the end of the month … and they can’t study,” Iing said.

Millions of Indonesian students have had to study remotely since many schools were closed in March due to the pandemic, a particular challenge for poor families and people in remote areas.

In a hilly neighborhood near Bogor, about 80 km south of Jakarta, volunteers bring a car with a cell phone transmitter to remote villages every week so that the students can use the Internet. The “School Volunteers” provide laptops and cell phones.

“The problem with online learning is that I rarely use a phone and share my phone with my parents,” said 14-year-old Dafa Mahesa Sudirman, who took the opportunity online with about 30 other students in a woodshed in hers Village to learn.

According to the Association of Internet Service Providers Indonesia (APJII), only around one in six of the approximately 60 million households in Indonesia had an Internet connection in mid-2019.

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