A man in civilian clothes looks at another man wearing an army uniform and resting a rifle in his arm. | "When Lambs Become Lions"

Link Voices

Start watching
HRzkkPW-show-poster2x3-pWmERoT.jpg

Foreign Correspondent

Start watching
A man looks out to a vast landscape of mountains and water. | From "Embrace of the Serpent" / Kino Lorber

Cinemondo

Start watching
RYQ2PZQ-show-poster2x3-OGargou.jpg

Earth Focus

Start watching
Rahaf Al Qunun | "Four Corners" episode "Escape from Saudi"
New episodes Sundays, 9 p.m. ET/PT

Four Corners

Start watching
jElHzF3-show-poster2x3-ilk2bxh.jpg

America ReFramed

Start watching
xKxYSKH-show-poster2x3-TLSXWK0.jpg

Tending Nature

Start watching
Heart Donate Icon
Support the world of Link TV with a donation today.
Sustaining Gifts Icon Card
Consider giving on a monthly basis to help continue to support us in our mission.
Planned Giving Icon
There are many ways to include Link TV in your plans for the future.

Starved of Wi-Fi, Indonesians Trade Plastic Trash to Study Online


This story was originally published September 15, 2020 by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

JAKARTA/BOGOR, Indonesia, Sept 15 (Reuters) - When the coronavirus pandemic forced Indonesian schools to shut, it exposed how millions of households in the Southeast Asian country still had no access to the internet or even a device like a mobile phone to do remote learning.

So students and volunteers have come up with creative ways to get round the problem.

For the last two months, Dimas Anwar Putra, 15, and a friend have been collecting plastic trash in their Jakarta neighborhood in exchange for Wi-Fi access.

Dimas Anwar Saputra, wearing a red mask, studies with other students using free internet Wi-F access that they got by exchanging plastic waste, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,  in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Willy Kurn
Dimas Anwar Saputra, wearing a red mask, studies with other students using free internet Wi-Fi access that they got by exchanging plastic waste, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,  in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 9, 2020. |  REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

With no internet access at home, the two students need to collect one kg (2.2 lb) of mostly plastic waste to trade for access to the internet so they can do online learning for around three hours up to three times a week.

"If we collect trash, it's like a charity for me and apart from that we also get free internet data," Dimas said.

The "wifi station" is the brainchild of Iing Solihin, who sells trash collected by students to purchase data costing 340,000 rupiah ($22) a month to allow small groups of students to study.

"The problem is when the internet data runs out before the end of the month ... and they can't study anymore," Iing said.

Millions of Indonesian students have been forced to learn remotely since many schools shut in March due to the pandemic, a particular challenge for poorer families and those in remote areas.

In a hilly district near Bogor, about 80 km (50 miles) south of Jakarta, volunteers bring a car equipped with a mobile network transmitter weekly to remote villages so students can use the internet. The "School Volunteers" provide laptops and mobile phones.

"The problem of learning online is I rarely use a phone, I share my phone with my parents," said Dafa Mahesa Sudirman, 14, who along with about 30 other students grabbed his chance to study online in a wooden shed in their village.

Only about one in six of Indonesia's roughly 60 million households had an internet connection in mid-2019, according to the Association of Internet Service Providers Indonesia (APJII).

Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Stephen Coates.

Related Content
Pupils listen to school lessons broadcast over a solar radio in Dalu village, Tana River County, Kenya, November 28, 2020. | Thomson Reuters Foundation/Benson Rioba

With Schools Shut by Pandemic, Solar Radios Keep Kenyan Children Learning

Solar-powered radios have been distributed to the poorest homes that lack electricity access, with lessons broadcast daily during the COVID-19 crisis — and perhaps beyond.
People queue for free food as Italians struggle to cope in a tough economic climate amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Milan, Italy December 14, 2020. | REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Queues Form Outside Milan Food Banks as Crisis Bites Ahead of Christmas

Workers and families suffer as Italy's stagnant economy reels from lockdowns aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19.
A group of women collecting mahua flowers near Budhiarmari village in Chattisgarh state, India, Nov. 13, 2020. | Thomson Reuters Foundation/Purushottam Thakur

To Ward Off Pandemic, India's Indigenous Tribes Find Remedies in Forests

As India battles COVID-19, the climate-resilient, nature-based lifestyles of some communities are helping protect them.