Education has often been perceived as an indispensable human right for its decisive role in determining ones’ future. The UN (United Nations), through the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, has declared it as one of several fundamental rights that need to be upheld. In Indonesia, the government’s duty to ensure the fulfillment of the right has been embodied in the opening of the nation’s constitution, UUD 1945.
Despite the high commitment of the state, the status quo of its education has been far from perfect. According to the research conducted by Indonesian education community SMSG (Semua Murid Semua Guru) in 2018, there are approximately 13 million Indonesian children who are not exposed to education and 187 thousand who are dropped out of school due to their inability to afford the tuition fee.
In the other hand, online education platforms have been carrying themselves as not only a mere profit-oriented organization but also an organization which aims to solve inaccessibility of education. As mentioned in its page, for instance, Ruangguru claimed to have spread its impact alongside 32 out of 34 provincial governments by assisting them with its LMS (Learning Management System). Therefore, this critical question would like to discover whether online education platforms have contributed to making education more accessible and what can they do to improve the current standing.
Q1: Have Indonesian online education platforms contributed to fulfilling the right of education?
Regardless of their claim, as for today, it is argued that online education platforms are still lacking in upholding the task of popularizing education for those in need. This hypothesis is constructed of two-fold arguments: first, the unaffordable supporting cost of accessing the source of material offered by online education platform and second, the inability of online education to provide an acceptable recognition.
The materials provided by the companies are packaged in cloud-stored videos and another interactive online medium which need internet as its elemental requirement to gain access. This precondition hampers the chance of students who come from low economic background to access the materials because video streaming costs a big cut of the ever-limited mobile data and cable internet which powers the home/public connection remains less affordable to the majority.
According to the report published by CupoNation, the price of Indonesian cable internet per Mbps (Megabytes per second) is still higher than Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, where for each Mbps, consumers have to pay Rp 14.895 to Rp 43.500. Therefore, while it may be true that online education can provide a more accessible source of knowledge, it still needs a more affordable internet, before it can expand its service to the more underprivileged students.
Furthermore, the idea of studying over the internet is still underappreciated in Indonesia. Somehow, the Indonesian online education platform is carrying themselves education platform which complements the education provided by the formal education institution. Although their success in providing complementary education may be accurate, it does not solve the problem of the education gap since the education it offers is not equal vis-a-vis the formal ones. The kind of education which is detrimental for Indonesians is the education which is universally approved by the future work field or the desired higher education.
With that being said, what is needed in the future of the students is not only a sheer knowledge but also recognition from the previous formal education institutions (junior high, high school, Madrasah schools). This problem is still left to answer by the online education platform for they are yet to be trusted as the primary education, which can provide both knowledge and recognized certification.
Q2: How can online education platform bridge the education gap in Indonesia?
Distributing education to the underprivileged and substituting formal education institutions’ role may not be the short-run goal of an online education platform. However, assuming that a massive disruption education system is envisioned to take place in the future, several preconditions should be set to ensure that the online education platform can bridge the education gap.
Firstly, a more affordable and accessible internet. Related to the reason above, the government has to downscale the cost of cable internet to increase the number of free public hot-spot. When free public hot-spot is available in many strategic locations, many people, including the underprivileged, can have more access to the internet and therefore, the data-consuming materials can be less-costly accessed.
Secondly, a curriculum equal to the one possessed by formal education institutions should be formulated and applied in the online education platforms. Instead of offering single subjects which are open to choose by the student according to their needs, the service must be extended to providing an integrated curriculum that obliges the students to complete a set of subjects and passes a series of examinations to grant the certificate of recognition.
Finally, there must be a shift of paradigm towards a trustworthy education. Either by government-led campaign or civil society-initiated transformation, the perspective upon the online education platform as a convenient and equal education platform should be encouraged within the society. For only by then, an online education platform can finally help to bridge the essential education the Indonesian people need.
Editor: Anisa Pratita Mantovani
Read another article written by Janitra Haryanto
 See OHCHR, (2019). International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. OHCHR [online] Available at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx [Accessed 12th May 2019].
 Kumparan, (2019). SMSG: 13 Juta Anak Indonesia Tidak Mengenyam Pendidikan. Kumparan [online] Available at: https://kumparan.com/@millennial/smsg-13-juta-anak-indonesia-tidak-mengenyam-pendidikan-1550565387028583226. [Accessed 12th May 2019].
 Kumparan, (2019). Tarif Internet di Indonesia Lebih Mahal Dibanding 4 Negara Tetangga. [online] Available at: https://kumparan.com/@kumparantech/tarif-internet-di-indonesia-lebih-mahal-dibanding-4-negara-tetangga-1qwmiLQ4aPW [Accessed 23th May 2019].