Indonesia and Its Digital Illiteracy Challenge

Map of Indonesia — illustration by pipieck at

Until January 2018, Indonesia is the third growing social media users in the world. With 23% yearly users growth, it is above the average 13% globally. With its population touching almost 265 million, 123 millions are online currently. However, most of them see internet as medium of absolute freedom, and propaganda of political interest.

The government seem to neglect the core element of digital era, which is the digital literacy. As internet becomes artifact of Millennials civilization, the absent of digital literacy corrupts the generation.

Fake news have become daily menu in many WhatsApp group. Facebook bias timeline is teeming with partisan pages rant and filtered ads. Twitter is no different. Social trending are swarmed with fake buzzer accounts and helpless netizen expressing their concern.

My aunty would copy and paste fake news in my family members WhatsApp group. One of my colleagues would post news depicting the nation incoming-havoc of debt-laden present government in Facebook. Jakarta Twitter-trending would be jammed with accounts abusing hashtag propagating new President in 2019.

People believe what they read in social media. Albeit their high education background and level of economy, some people don’t measure impacts of digital illiteracy in their life.

Sometimes, with only quick scanning or headline-glancing, people share, like or comment fake news. With algorithm bias, social media timeline feeds users with things that are buzz-worthy, but are not fact-worthy.

Digital literacy is only a buzz-worth keywords for the sake of SEO optimization. Misinformation of social media is never been mentioned in school curriculum. Reporting abusive, provocative, and radical contents in the internet is never a thing for most teachers.

Indonesian education system is still calibrating itself with new curriculum projects, teachers’ welfare, and more schools. While the rest of the education world scrutinizing and balancing their needs to meet digital transformation, we could only wait and see.

There was used to be TIK (Teknik Informatika) or Information Technology subject in high schools. However the Education ministry called the subjects off in 2013. In 2013 curriculum, the TIK subject is unnecessary because students can understand digital technology outside the classroom. And currently such disposition is proven fallacious.

I feel quite sure many Indonesian yearns to involve and participate in our education digital transformation. But, the system of our education suppresses the necessary changes. This is probably because ‘the status quo’ assembly considers further adjustment would disrupt their ‘fruitful affair’.

Indonesia in coming years would still be one of the biggest market, biggest users, and biggest consumers of digital life. Shaping wiser users and developing smarter consumers should be government main responsibilities. However, these tasks are not in education agenda.

Solo, August 27 2018