From primary schools to universities, the global COVID-19 pandemic has left education systems worldwide reeling as strict quarantine measures and social distancing protocols have forced schools to pivot their operations. As the crisis continues with no clear end in sight, the education sector must adapt and find a way to go on. For many schools, this has meant transitioning to online distance learning, as this is the safest option for teachers to continue classes for their students. But both lower-income students and small and medium schools risk falling behind as they struggle to have adequate internet access, reliable technology and equipment, and the capability to teach and learn remotely.
More than half of secondary schools and 90 percent of universities and colleges are private institutions in Indonesia. With fewer options for quality public education, many lower-income families must send their children to private schools. These families have limited access to financial support to help them pay for tuition fees and other school expenses. This burden has only become more challenging as household incomes have dwindled during the pandemic. Pintek, an Indonesian fintech and Accion Venture Lab portfolio company, makes education more accessible to low and middle-income families and supports small and medium private schools through specialized education lending products.
The pandemic has forced schools to improve their facilities so that teachers can safely host their students back in the classrooms or effectively teach their students at home through online instruction. Pintek understands the urgent need to continue supporting these schools and their students so that learning can continue. Education opens up opportunities for people to build better futures and support themselves and their families.
Moving classrooms online in Indonesia
Bina Mutu Bangsa is a vocational school located near Jakarta in Depok, Indonesia, that preps students for careers in hospitality, healthcare, and other sectors. The school completely shut down from March through June, cutting off the income generated from enrollment fees while classrooms were closed. Teachers have now transitioned to remote learning by creating online modules and videos for their students to access from home. The school follows government-recommended health protocols for limited in-person instruction by providing masks, face shields, rapid COVID-19 tests, and thermometer guns to conduct health screenings for teachers and students entering the school.
Hacktiv8 is an edtech platform that prepares students for careers in the technology sector. Hacktiv8’s staff quickly transitioned their operations from a mix of in-person teaching and digital modules to fully online instruction when the coronavirus outbreak reached Indonesia. The school prioritized continuing classes with minimal disruption so their students can keep building the skills needed to secure jobs. Though remote learning has been a mostly smooth transition for the school, many students struggle with unreliable internet service, making it difficult to use Hactiv8’s learning platform from their homes.
How fintech has supported education during this difficult time
Schools like Bina Mutu Bangsa need support to get through the transition from physical classrooms to online schools. Pintek provided financial support to help Bina Mutu Bangsa and others cover these unforeseen and unbudgeted costs of this transition and bridge the gap when low enrollment fees leave them unable to fund these new initiatives.
Just as schools face this burden, so have the families and students. Many students and their families are overwhelmed by the burden and additional costs of distance learning on top of regular school fees during this time of significant economic and health challenges. For students of Hactiv8, reduced income has made staying in the online course challenging. To help these adult learners continue their education and parents keep their children in school, Pintek continues to innovate and provide flexible financial products in addition to the normal tuition and student loan support they offer. Pintek introduced a new program, called Pintek Instant, that offers families additional support in the form of small educational loans for things beyond school fees, including books, e-learning content, equipment, and devices. They are also providing loan restructuration for families affected by COVID-19.
From children learning to read to adults gaining new, more relevant skills, education opens opportunities for people to envision a bright future and achieve their dreams. While the pandemic has added significant challenges for both schools and families, finding a way for these institutions and their students to cope with the new normal of learning can help ensure that no one falls behind during these difficult times. By developing new products and providing additional support to its clients, Pintek aims to continue improving lives in Indonesia through accessible education, even if this may be remote.