When Learning Is Really Remote: Students Climb Trees and Travel Miles for a Cell Signal
By Richard C. Paddock and Dera Menra Sijabat
- 5, 2020
Across the Indonesian archipelago officials have shuttered schools and implemented remote learning, but internet and cellphone service is limited and many students lack smartphones and computers.
In North Sumatra, students climb to the tops of tall trees a mile from their mountain village. Perched on branches high above the ground, they hope for a cell signal strong enough to complete their assignments.
Around the globe, including in some of the world’s wealthiest countries, educators are struggling with how to best make distance learning viable during the pandemic. But in poorer countries like Indonesia, the challenge is particularly difficult.
More than a third of Indonesian students have limited or no internet access, according to the Education Ministry, and experts fear many students will fall far behind, especially in remote areas where online study remains a novelty.
- 4, 2020
WARSAW — Stepan Svetlov’s computer sits on a desk in Warsaw, nearly 300 miles from Minsk, the capital of Belarus. But when Belarusians poured into the streets in the hours and days after President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko fraudulently claimed a re-election victory on Aug. 9, it was thanks in no small part to Mr. Svetlov, 22, and his computer.
Internet access was often blocked that week, leading opposition activists were in custody or in hiding, and independent media has long been heavily restricted in Belarus. But Belarusians were kept informed and even directed by an account run by Mr. Svetlov on one of the few social media platforms — Telegram — that had managed to maintain sporadic service during the internet outage.
From across the border, Mr. Svetlov and his team of five pumped out information about voter fraud and police violence — as well as tips about where, when and how to protest, evade the police, defend against police beatings, treat exposure to tear gas and locate medicine and safe houses.
“Take to the streets,” Mr. Svetlov and his team wrote after preliminary results were announced on Aug. 9, “and defend your votes!”
Over the past two decades, millions of young people in Latin America became the first in their families to head to college, a historic expansion that promised to propel a generation into the professional class and transform the region.
But as the pandemic grips the region, killing hundreds of thousands and devastating economies, an alarming reversal is underway: Millions of university students are leaving their studies, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.