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Edtech platforms step up while Indonesia shuts downs schools in major cities

Ruangguru and Zenius Education are offering free programs to help students keep up with classwork at home.

Indonesia is one of the last countries in Southeast Asia to report cases of patients sick with COVID-19. Its first two cases were confirmed on March 2, and the disease is now spreading at a fast pace. Two weeks since then, five have died and 117 people have tested positive as of March 16. One of the infected patients is the country’s transportation minister, Budi Karya Sumadi.

Although Indonesia has not declared a national lockdown, President Joko Widodo urged the public to limit activities in public spaces, and to work and study at home. Schools in major cities like Greater Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta are closed for the next two weeks to limit transmission of the virus.

With millions of students confined to their homes, edtech platforms are stepping up by offering free services. Ruangguru launched programs where students can access live teaching sessions from Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., according to an announcement made by Ruangguru CEO Belva Devara on the company’s Instagram account. The platform is providing 15 live teaching channels that are guided by selected teachers, covering all subjects between elementary level and grade 12. Students can also access the question bank and online practice exams for free.

Ruangguru is also offering online teacher training courses for free for a month. Trainee teachers have access to 250 training videos and modules covering basic competency materials in the pedagogical and professional fields, such as skills for managing classrooms, developing learning plans, and implementing project-based learning.

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Similarly, Zenius Education is opening access to its 80,000 instruction videos to help students prepare for the upcoming national exams. According to its official statement, the platform will offer a free online practice exam session on the Zenius app and website on March 26. Also, teachers can share Zenius’ content with students and their parents through various social media platforms.

The president’s order to keep students at home is supported by the minister of education and culture Nadiem Makarim. In the minister’s official press statement, Nakarim said that he appreciates the support of tech companies that are helping students continue with their education during this time of crisis. In addition, the education ministry is developing a learning app called Rumah Belajar (home of study) that can be accessed through the ministry’s website.

It is not certain whether Indonesia will ever declare lockdowns—like those in China and Italy—due to the coronavirus’ rapid spread. However, with policies that encourage people to remain inside their homes as much as possible, the demand for online services such as learning apps and productivity tools will certainly increase. It won’t be surprising to see a significant surge in their traffic and user counts. In China, an education app called Xueersi saw a drastic increase in daily active users—nearly 27 times—after the Lunar New Year’s Eve.