Extending a helping hand
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His concerns about education were enough reason for Kreshna Aditya to do something.
“I come from a family of educators. Education has always been our favorite talking point over dinner,” said Kreshna, the founder of the networking community Bincang Edukasi.
“I see two big problems: One is how the government runs our education system and the other is the people’s paradigm of education.”
Kreshna, who was inspired and influenced by the TED Talks available online, views Indonesia’s education system as limited to test scores and national exams.
He aims to broaden the approach to education to focus on “encouraging [children’s] unique potential and giving them life skills”.
So his search began for people who shared his views — and he found many.
“From an ex-thug who built a multiple-intelligence school for street children, to a prominent radio station manager who created a potency-based e-school, these are the real education movers.”
He became inspired and set up a blog to share these alternative education initiatives before creating Bincang Edukasi, more commonly known as Bined.
Bined is a networking and collaboration program for educational innovators, also referred to as “education warriors” by Kreshna, to share their battle plans to fight what they see as a flawed educational system.
Each get-together consists of approximately four to five speakers who carry out presentations to share their ideas. This is then followed by a discussion session, in which the audience can give feedback on what they have heard and contribute their own ideas.
Bined is an arena where ideas are shared and initiatives are molded and strengthened through collaboration.
“At first, we used social media only to promote Bined ‘get-togethers’, but then we found that we could get together online.”
Bined holds weekly Twitter discussions on different topics every Tuesday night from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. under the #twitedu hash tag.
While the audience at their get-togethers usually amount to between 50-150 people, their overall following is much larger.
“For us, the audience is not only those people who come to the events. We always try to document each event and share the contents via our website and social media channels.”
For Kreshna, social media is indispensable.
“Social media connects people. That is its biggest power. We have learned throughout history that one way to stop social change from happening is by disconnecting people, separating them. Social media removes these barriers.”
But is this effect constricted to urban regions of the country?
Dubbed the father of indonesian bloggers, popular online blogger, Enda Nasution, estimates that “with only 20 percent utilization, 80 percent of Indonesians are not yet connected to the Internet”; the majority of whom live in more rural, less developed areas of the country.
There is more room to grow, particularly in the country’s rural sphere. One way of contributing to this growth is Mathieu Le Bras’ brainchild — the “8villages” application.
An agronomist with 10 years’ experience in developing countries, Le Bras has always been amazed by the marketing efficiency in rural regions, and sought to harness this through founding 8villages.
The new social networking application is aimed at smallholders and began its mission in West Java.
Le Bras, who holds an MBA from INSEAD and an MSc in Agriculture from the Institut Superieur d’Agriculture in France, told The Jakarta Post that “most of the time, margins are made by people retaining information, allowing them to set very low prices”. The application 8villages can become a tool to level the playing field for these smallholders by improving transparency.
Using a mobile platform, farmers who sign up on the network are regularly updated about what is happening in local crop communities.
“It is very much like Facebook, when you are alerted that you have been tagged in a photo, except that alerts are sent via sms,” Le Bras said.
The system also allows for short voice recordings, which can then be rated in terms of their usefulness.
By extracting information, and “delivering it to where it really matters”, the site hopes to improve the productivity and efficiency of these farming systems.
The social networking application was first put into practice with some 1,000 farmers in West Java around six months ago and, according to Le Bras, was received well. Farmers paid attention to what other farmers were saying and could also interact with local buyers.
Further action, however, is needed to ensure the system’s success. The first step is to reassure these smallholders that 8villages is not a scam.
“They are suspicious that they are going to be charged a lot of money and, therefore, we need to educate them about it.”
This education will be achieved through a partnership with major Indonesian phone operators, whose networks will carry this system.
“We are building something new and very promising” said Le Bras.
It does appear 8villages is very promising — it brings the benefits of the Internet beyond the confines of cities, making it possible to envisage a near future in which the threads of social networking extend to all spheres of human life.
— JP/Katherine Nugent