The Mayor of Bandung, Ridwan Kamil, has hired a local startup to help him reform the city’s education system.

The Mayor yesterday launched the city’s ‘Smart Schools’ vision with a project called Edubox. The pilot provides 25 public schools in the city with new infrastructure for digital learning, and even allows teachers to track students’ location.

GovInsider caught up with Ardian Febri, Co-Founder and CEO of Pinisi – the startup behind Edubox – to find out how it will help.

febri

Tracking students’ location

Pinisi has built an app where students can access material published by their teachers, and even take exams. Teachers have their own app to manage and publish content and exam questions.

The app will prevent students from skipping classes, the city hopes. “Every student can be surveilled by the teacher with the GPS coordinate of the gadget,” Febri says. The app will ping students’ locations, allowing teachers to locate them if required.

No cheating

The app’s online tests could help the city save 40 billion rupiah (US$3 million), Febri estimates. Each of Bandung’s 1,200 public schools “spends about 40 million rupiah for paper for examinations”, he says.

It can also help cut cheating in exams, Febri believes. Every student will get a different set of questions, randomly picked by the app from a set pool. Since the Edubox system is hosted on an intranet, they will not be able to access the web during exams. If they do try to, they will be locked out of the exam and will need a code from their teacher to resume the test.

edubox2

Answers will be automatically checked by the system, saving teachers the time of manually checking papers. However, this will only be possible for multiple choice questions or short, one-sentence answers – which is the most widely used format for testing in Indonesia, he says.

EduBox is also pooling together 500,000 exam questions through the app, which can be used across schools. “Every teacher [in the city] is being pushed to make 100 questions,” he says.

Access to internet

Peluncuran Edubox Smart School (internet lokal atau Intranet) di 25 Sekolah di BDG. Kamu2 gak bisa bolos lagi bari nipu kolot, krn ada apps pendeteksi mabal, gak bisa contekan lagi krn soal ujiannya digital dan tiap anak beda2, gak perlu beli buku mahal yg gonta-ganti tiap semester lagi, karena sdh ada di server. Guru2 gak usah meriksa ujian lagi atau nulis rapor, bisa habiskan waktunya utk haha hihi/motivator atau jadi sahabat murid2nya. Yang tidak punya gadget akan dipinjami oleh sekolah. Sistem ini memiliki 1/2 juta bank soal dan menghemat 40 milyar per tahun dari biaya ujian manual. Tidak menghilangkan budaya menulis atau interaksi sosial, hanya mengefisienkan. Semoga lompatan ini mengubah kualitas pendidikan kita Bandung. *kita pastikan pas ujian tidak ada notif WA dr mantan yg bisa ganggu konsentrasi krn koneksi seluler dimatikan.

A video posted by M Kamil (@ridwankamil) on

A key challenge to Bandung’s digital education vision is internet quality. Every classroom has a WiFi access point, Febri says, but internet quality is poor. “Internet access is bad for majority of schools, so we made the learning platform locally available in schools,” he said.

Edubox stores all teaching content on local servers installed in classrooms, so that it can be accessed with lower bandwidth. An intranet is created for every classroom for students and teachers can access the content.

Most students own smartphones, and are using these to access the material “About 80% to 90% of students have smartphones,” he says. Those who do not own one will be lent one by their school.

The app is being piloted from August to December, and is being tested with grades four to 12. If it proves successful, “the City Government will implement it in all schools in Bandung,” he says.

Bandung’s vision for smart schools shows how city governments can work with budding entrepreneurs to experiment with new services. Good ideas come in all shapes and sizes, but cities must be open to trying.