As an archipelago country, Indonesia still faces unequal access to education. According to world population review, 56,7% of the population lives in Java resulting a geographical imbalance. Unfortunately, this imbalance means that the quality of education in Java and other urban areas compared to education in remote areas aren’t equal due to the different standards of central and regional government. In other words, desirable public schools and private schools in urban areas will most likely have well-trained teachers and tremendous facilities compared to schools in remote areas that don’t have as many fundings. In a tertiary level, this causes a shortage of universities and higher education between Java and other regions. According to Indonesia’s Directorate of Research, Technology and Higher Education, out of the top 100 universities in Indonesia, 71 of those universities are located in Java. This means that students outside of Java do not have equal access to adequate education since it has proven to be very difficult to find qualified instructors or faculty who are willing to work in undeveloped areas versus reputable universities in urban areas.
Indonesia has had numerous attempts to overcome this inequality. Various companies, organizations, and the government have come up with ideas and programs to tackle the issues. The government established a program in 1971 called Kuliah Kerja Nyata 'Student Study Service' that links academic studies with community service. This means that students are given the opportunity to engage in community service in exchange for university credits. This program has been integrated into many universities in Indonesia which creates a sense of responsibilities for students to give back to the community in various ways such as teaching. Although this is a great established program, the Student Study Service programs only last around one to two months and once the program ends, that's it. Therefore having a long-lasting impact might be a challenge.
The second attempts our country has done is an initiative named Yayasan Indonesia Mengajar (IM). Indonesia Mengajar translated as Indonesia Teaches is a movement for passionate individuals to help improve Indonesia’s education. They aim to create a sustainable impact in selected remote areas, create a community of future leaders and to inspire social movements in Indonesia. In other words, IM facilitates passionate teachers to live, learn and teach in the local community for a year. IM has worked in 17 different remote areas in Indonesia. As an organization, IM has been very successful at maximizing the potential of passionate teachers and placing them in communities in need. Unfortunately, IM struggles to find stagnant funding to keep their programs going. With limited funding, this leads to limited teachers who are able to be sent to these remote areas in Indonesia resulting in a scale that is not as significant compared to other programs utilizing the means of technology.
Aside from those two, Bimbingan Belajar (Bimbel), also known as "tutoring services", are considered to be an effective attempt in lowering the gap of education inequality in Indonesia that is also very popular in Indonesia. Many students would go to tutoring classes after school for additional help with homework, class topics that they might have trouble understanding or prepare for national exams. Some students also join Bimbel lessons since they don’t learn much from school due to their teacher’s limited ability to teach. However, not every student get to experience this luxury. Most of the best Bimbel services are concentrated in big cities which means that not every student obtains the option to have additional help with their learning.
To address the issue of access and location many EdTech companies created, the concept of online tutoring services based on the computer or mobile phones is created so that students from all over the country can access bimbel services through their phones regardless of their locations. This seems like the perfect solution for Indonesia to abolish geographical boundaries so that students all over Indonesia can finally get equal access to the education they deserve. Alas, most of these EdTechs tend to focus more on the business side of things.
One of the products from Ruangguru, “Ruangguru digitalbootcamp”, is a blended learning platform combining both online and offline method where we connect the users subscribing our services to the best online tutors/teachers in the country through group chat learning. It was first established as a commercial product for high schools students aiming to have more intensive studying without having to attend conventional physical classes like they usually do in Bimbel. The non-commercial form was first established in the MIT Solve competition 2017 where we obtained the grant to implement this solution towards dropouts students who are aiming to have better welfare by gaining high school diploma so that they could have more proper jobs. Since the idea was in form of social projects, we had the donors cover the subscription fee for the products. This time, we modify the solution and target different subjects who are also underprivileged which are the students residing in the remote areas in the country who don't have enough options to prepare themselves to compete in the national college entrance exams. Unlike students living in urban areas, these students struggle with limited infrastructure. limited education counseling and private tutoring services, and the quality of the teachers are not as adequate as those teaching in the cities. By proposing this solution for the projects, we will be able to implement this solution for free as well as creating massive social impact.
We can't deny if there are issues of internet access; henceforth, the cities we're going to select for this intervention are the cities located in remote areas, but also still has adequate internet access. These cities are usually called satellite cities. Ruangguru has been capable of establishing a solid relationship between the local governments. In retrospect, we have implemented past projects involving remote areas to be intervened, such as Biruen and Malang. We require them to watch the videos, answer the problem sets, and participate in a group chat. We design the video to have low bandwidth, but just to mitigate unstable and poor internet reception, we will also provide flash drives pertaining the learning videos. This package is also called "Ruangguru On-The-Go" (OTG).
In the end, we're not just talking about the disparity of infrastructure, but also untreated access to pursue better living of the students. Students in remote areas always have limited option and resource to compete to go to tertiary education mostly located in Java compared to those in urban areas. "College Preparation digitalbootcamp" eradicates this problem and creates equal access to education, especially for those underprivileged students in remote areas in the country. This solution champions equal access to education by optimizing the means of technology.