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Jakarta Post

Education ministry’s partnership with Netflix met with criticism in Indonesia

  • Nina A. Loasana and Ni Nyoman Wira

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, June 20, 2020   /   07:32 am
Education ministry’s partnership with Netflix met with criticism in Indonesia A still from Netflix's 'Tidying Up with Marie Kondo'. (Netflix on YouTube/File)

A decision made by the Education and Culture Ministry to collaborate with streaming platform Netflix has been met with criticism.

A member of the House of Representatives, Willy Aditya of the NasDem Party, said the collaboration was unethical even though it did not violate any regulations.

"Although the collaboration did not violate any regulations, on an ethical level it's still questionable. Rather than Netflix, the Education and Culture Ministry should collaborate with other state-owned enterprises," Willy said on Thursday.

Starting on Saturday, the ministry is to broadcast several Netflix original documentaries as part of its Belajar dari Rumah (Study from Home) program.

Belajar dari Rumah is a full-day educational program that helps students who are required to study from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been airing daily on public television broadcaster TVRI since mid-April.

Among the documentaries that air every Saturday at 9:30 p.m. are Our Planet, Street Food: Asia, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Spelling the Dream, Chasing Coral and Night on Earth. Reruns of the said shows, which feature Indonesian subtitles, will be available on Sundays and Wednesdays at 9 a.m.

House of Representatives Commission X chairman Syaiful Huda said the collaboration would limit room for creativity among the Indonesian youth.

"We think there are a lot of youths in the country that could create more creative documentaries, short movies or guidelines for students during this period of learning from home," Huda said in a statement on Thursday as reported by kompas.com.

"I wonder why the education ministry as the home for education [in the country] chose to collaborate with a foreign streaming platform just for its documentaries.”

Huda challenged the ministry for not working with local production houses instead to create high-quality and entertaining content for students during remote studies. 

"Why should they collaborate with a video streaming platform that has yet to show clear contributions to the country's income? We still have the National Movie Center [PFN] and college students [with expertise] in visual communication design. Why didn't [the ministry] give them the opportunity?" he said.

Netflix said that the company’s partnership with the Education and Culture Ministry was based on a free-of-charge agreement in the hope its documentaries could reach a wider audience. 

"Around the world, teachers and educational organizations have asked if we can make some of our documentaries available during the crisis and we’re happy to help without any cost," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement obtained by The Jakarta Post on Friday.

"Our partnership with the Education and Culture Ministry helps reach more audiences in Indonesia given that TVRI has nationwide coverage, especially for students who might not have stable internet access while they learn from home.

“We selected titles that are meant to help students learn and be inspired through diverse, enjoyable and informative stories, especially during these challenging times when schools are closed," it added.