Jakarta student failing classes because he couldn’t afford a smartphone highlights online learning struggles

Aditya (in grey shirt) and his older brother Rivai at their home in Palmerah, West Jakarta. Photo: Istimewa
Aditya (in grey shirt) and his older brother Rivai at their home in Palmerah, West Jakarta. Photo: Istimewa

The struggles of online learning in Indonesia is such that, seven months into the pandemic, less privileged students are still unable to access their study materials. The problem has now been brought again to the surface, with the story of a junior high school student in West Jakarta who reportedly failed last semester because he couldn’t partake in online learning. 

The male student, identified as Aditya, said that in his latest report card, his grades were left blank because he had not been able to access his studies. Due to his family’s financial woes, Aditya couldn’t afford a smartphone, with his father, who is a mechanic, having lost his job due to COVID-19 pandemic while his older brother Rivai, an elementary school graduate, is still unemployed.

Aditya’s family lives in a small house in Palmerah and he goes to a public school in nearby Tomang. Rivai said that the school knew about Aditya’s situation and paid him a visit at home at one point.

“They said they could only help by giving a chance to take follow-up exams for my younger brother. But they also hoped our parents would fulfill Adit’s needs,” Rivai said yesterday.

Rivai, who said that his brother is a good student at school, hoped that Aditya will receive support in the form of a smartphone to help with his online learning. 

“I hope my younger brother will be able to continue his education. Not like me, who had dropped out of school.” 

With Aditya’s story having spread far and wide, government officials say they are now aware of his situation and may offer assistance.

“We will explore what actually happened. We will take further action,” Jumeri, who heads the Directorate General of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education at the Education and Culture Ministry, said yesterday.

Officials from the West Jakarta Municipal Office, including Mayor Uus Kuswanto, said they will also look further into Aditya’s situation. Uripasih, who heads West Jakarta’s Education Agency, said that he will gather all principals of junior high schools, high schools, and vocational schools (SMK) in the area to identify students who don’t own smartphones in the hopes that they can receive assistance from the government.

Also Read Education Ministry to supply students with mobile data for online learning

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