RI to expand ICT-based education

by Wasti Atmodjo on 2012-12-05

Underprivileged: School children play with their friends in this rural, isolated village in east Bali. Seeing their school equipped with information and communication technology is a vague dream for these children, who are still struggling to get decent uniforms and shoes. BD/Anggara MahendraUnderprivileged: School children play with their friends in this rural, isolated village in east Bali. Seeing their school equipped with information and communication technology is a vague dream for these children, who are still struggling to get decent uniforms and shoes. BD/Anggara Mahendra Indonesia has pledged to strengthen its education networks by utilizing information and communication technology (ICT) in 100,000 schools across the country by 2014.

Taufik Hanafi, a professor of education and expert on social and economic issues at the Education and Culture Ministry, said when opening the International Symposium on Open, Distance and E-Learning (ISODEL) 2012 in Kuta on Tuesday that Indonesia would benefit from using ICT-based education in its school curriculums, especially when reaching schools in remote regions.

“Indonesia is an archipelagic country with 13,000 islands, but we are optimistic that we can provide the best education to all school-age students despite any geographical obstacles,” the professor said.

This year’s ISODEL meeting, taking place from Dec. 4 through Dec. 6, will bear the theme “Enhancing Lifelong Learning for All: Achieving Global Welfare.”

The three-day gathering, bringing together no less than 500 education experts from around the world, will be aiming at sharing knowledge, experiences and thoughts in the field of open, distance and e-learning worldwide.

It is also a forum in which all participating countries will learn and disseminate best practices, breakthroughs and innovations in the field of open, distance and e-learning methods.

Taufik went further that Indonesia currently had 54.8 million school students, 44 million of whom were elementary and junior high school students. “Indonesia ranks third in Asia and fourth in the world in terms of the number of school-age students,” Taufik said.

According to a report released by UNESCO in 2012, Indonesia is categorized as middle-income country based on its gross domestic product (GDP).

The report also says that Indonesia’s school-life expectancy (the length of time children should be in education) is between 13-16 years.

There are several countries with higher GDPs, such as Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Greece, Poland and Mexico, which have similar levels of school-life expectancy. Some countries, including Turkey and Oman, which have high GDPs, have a lower level of school-life expectancy compared to Indonesia’s.

“Reaching out to faraway places will be our main focus. We will expand the use of information and communication technology when disseminating lessons in every subject,” Taufik added.

To implement the ICT-expansion program, the central government has gradually increased the education budget from Rp 2.98 trillion (US$309.6 million) in 2012 to Rp 3.36 trillion in 2013.

Around Rp 162 billion will be allocated to develop the national education network (Jardiknas) as part of the National School Net program.

Ari Santoso, head of the ministry’s center for information, communication and technology, said that currently the ministry had developed Internet connections in 23,000 out of 254,000 elementary schools under the ministry, including those in Bali.

In 2013, the ministry will again develop its Internet connections in 40,000 to 100,000 schools.

“Training for teachers to apply ICT-based education methods will be our main priority,” Santoso said.

The ministry has plans to develop solar or wind energy systems to provide electricity for schools located in remote areas.

“Instead of providing desktop computers, we prefer to give them laptop computers to save energy,” Ari added.

Distinguished speakers from the World Bank, China, Russia and other countries will present their papers today (Wednesday) at the symposium.

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