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Jakarta Post

University student in Sulawesi dies after falling while searching for internet signal

  • Andi Hajramurni

    The Jakarta Post

Makassar, South Sulawesi   /   Sat, May 9, 2020   /   03:13 pm
University student in Sulawesi dies after falling while searching for internet signal Rudi’s village was about 30 kilometers from the town center and the village only has certain places for a good internet connection. (Shutterstock/TierneyMJ)

Rudi Salam, 25, a student from Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi, died after falling off a two-story mosque in his hometown of Sinjai while searching for internet connection.

The local police said he was trying to connect to the internet to look for material to finish his undergraduate thesis.

Rudi fell off the Baburrahman mosque in his village in Saotengah, Tellulimpoe, on Wednesday night and died in a local hospital in Sinjai on Thursday early in the morning.

“He fell from the first floor to the ground floor of the mosque, which was about 4 meters. The right side of his head was fractured,” Sinjai Police chief, Adj. Sr. Comr. Iwan Irmawan said on Saturday.

Read also: Life without internet: Bornean students learn by radio during pandemic

Iwan said Rudi was on the first floor of the mosque, which was undergoing a renovation, with four other young villagers. They were looking for an internet connection. Because of the renovation, right at the top of the cleric pulpit on the ground floor, the floor was fashioned from some wooden planks and thin plywood. Rudi stepped on the planks and fell through them.

Many places in Indonesia have what locals call “blank spots”, areas without an internet signal. Many people would have to find a spot that has a steady internet connection. Often times in villages, especially in remote areas, this means traveling far and high. Rudi’s village was about 30 kilometers from the town center and the village only has certain places for a good internet connection.

Rudi, a student at the Agrotechnology Department of Hasanuddin University's School of Agriculture, had returned to his hometown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was close to finishing his thesis, said Mintang, Rudi’s mother.

Read also: Digital divide causes disparities in COVID-19 relief distribution: Experts

Universitas Hasanuddin spokesperson Ishaq Rahman confirmed that Rudi was a student at the state university.

“We are saddened that we lost one of our students. He was finishing his thesis, due this semester,” Ishaq said.

Since March 15, the government has ordered millions of students in Indonesia to study from home and this policy made students rely heavily on internet connection. Reports have shown that the country's digital divide has put many students without an affordable or existing internet connection at a disadvantage. (evi)