Internet still a novelty in some parts of Indonesia

By Michael Watopa and Yenny Herawati for Khabar Southeast Asia

2013-01-24

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The Internet is an important part of life today – but not everyone has access to it. In Indonesia, one ingenious approach to this problem is the Mobile Internet Service Centre (Mobil Pusat Layanan Internet Kecamatan or MPLIK), a van outfitted with computers and satellite Internet access that visits remote areas. [Photos by Michael Watopa/Khabar]

The van -- sponsored by the Ministry of Communication and Information and private cellular company PT Telkom – draws a crowd of curious children in Lawele village in Buton, an island just southeast of Sulawesi, on December 1st, 2012.

La Ode Mitra Hidayat, 42, works in the van that is connecting Lawele village with the Internet. The purpose of the programme is to educate children about technology – and they are eager to learn.

Most of the elementary schoolchildren visiting the van have never experienced the Internet before.

La Ode Muhammad Shah, 10, gets a turn on one of the laptops provided by MPLIK. He is amazed how the Internet can connect people across the world and share information on topics like science, art, and movies. He hopes the van never leaves his village. Unfortunately, it is only scheduled for a one-day visit.

A group of elementary school students walks to Lawele's public square after class to visit the MPLIK. They are excited to learn about the Internet and how technology can support their learning and provide opportunities for fun.

A boy stands on the tire of a vehicle belonging to an asphalt company in Lawele. Poor road conditions, long distances, and inadequate electricity supplies may impact travel and commerce, but do not diminish the children's curiosity about technology.

The assembled students have learned how to operate the Internet and are grateful for the knowledge. But they are disappointed that MPLIK is leaving Lawele—until the next time it appears.

Digital education initiatives are taking place across other parts of the Indonesian archipelago. In Caruban, East Java, students at the Mejayan 1 Public School have in-class access to laptop computers. Here, the school uses the Internet to help students learn about science. [Yenny Herawati/Khabar].

Also in East Java, students at Public School 1 in Dolopo, a district in the regency of Madiun, are gaining exposure to computer technology through a newly-implemented programme. [Yenny Herawati/Khabar].

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