Henrikus Suroto teaches at a school on the Indonesian island of Java. When the coronavirus health crisis forced the school to close, he knew he could not move his classes online. His students live in rural areas that lack internet connections. Some do not even have a telephone signal.
Instead, Suroto found another way to make sure his students keep studying: He goes to them.
The 57-year-old teacher spends about six hours a day traveling by motorbike and on foot to reach communities in the Magelang area of Central Java.
Suroto sees educating the children as a responsibility.
“I am a teacher; it is my responsibility to do this. I must accompany and teach my students,” he told Reuters news agency.
His only concern seems to be the rain. He says it gets especially difficult going up and down valleys on rainy days.
In the area where he works, many of the households are not set up to use technology. That is the case in large parts of the country, which is home to more than 260 million people.
Indonesia has more than 17 thousand islands. About 6,000 of them are inhabited, and many parts are rural.
Millions of students, including those on the islands of Komodo and Madura, are struggling with home schooling because their households lack basic technology. Some students are forced to go several meters outside their homes to connect to the internet.
The country has around 60 million households, but only about one in six had an internet connection as recently as one year ago. That information comes from the Association of Internet Service Providers Indonesia.
“Well, I do not know what the internet is and other sophisticated devices that are often used nowadays,” said Martinus Kartijo. He is father to a student in Henrikus Suroto’s class.
Arnasih, a mother of another student, is thankful for the influence the teacher has on her children.
“The children listen and obey orders from their teachers, compared to their parents,” she said.
For their part, students say they welcome the face-to-face meetings with Suroto, who wears a facial covering and obeys social distancing rules during his visits with students.
“Studying at home sometimes can be difficult, sometimes easy, but if Mr. Suroto is there, all subjects become easy,” said Albertus Jonas Wiratama, a third-grade student.
I’m Alice Bryant.
This report is based on a story from Reuters news agency and other sources. Alice Bryant adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
motorbike - n. a small motorcycle
accompany - v. to go somewhere with someone
inhabit - v. to live in a place
household - n. the people in a family or other group that are living together in one house
sophisticated - adj. highly developed and complex
grade - n. a level of study that is completed by a student during one year