Indonesia is a huge country, one of the biggest in the world. In 2017, the Southeast Asian archipelago state’s population was 264 million, putting it ahead of Brazil as the world’s 4th most populous state. Indonesia is also a poor country with a GDP per capita of under $4000. One of its biggest challenges is not only poverty but the relative remoteness of many of the populations scattered across its 6000 inhabited islands (of 17,508 in total).
The combination of these factors probably means it comes as no surprise that Indonesia faces huge challenges when it comes to providing its youngsters with high quality education. A third of the world’s ‘out of school’ children come from just 6 countries, one of which is Indonesia. It is also a set of circumstances that means edtech, technology in education, solutions can have a particularly powerful impact.
Step forward Ruangguru, an Indonesian edtech start-up tipped to achieve ‘unicorn’ status in the near future with a $1 billion+ valuation. There are over 50 million students and 4 million teachers in Indonesia, making it one of the world’s largest national educational systems. It is also one of the world’s lowest performing educational systems. Ruangguru’s mission is to facilitate inclusive, high quality education delivered online and via an app to anyone who wishes to access it.
The Ruangguru platform delivers a wide range of educational channels on many subjects via videos, quizzes, flashcards, study notes and exam preparation structures. It’s designed as a supplement to what students are learning in school rather than a replacement. The platform now serves around 10 million student users and 300,000 teachers. The company hopes the app will give Indonesian children from more remote provinces that lack access to the same quality of educational facilities as their peers in bigger towns and cities a fighting chance of making the progress necessary for them to fight for university places. UNESCO research indicates that disparity between Indonesia’s highest and lowest earners would be reduced by 39% if the whole population had access to the same level of education.
Ruangguru, with the backing of investors such as Credit Suisse, has managed the tricky balancing act of combining profit with social impact and is now a cash positive business. The concept of ‘technology as an equaliser’ has driven the co-founders and team (now 1000 strong) behind the Ruangguru edtech app. Their success can act as an inspiration for the latest technology in the world of education around the world, especially within the context of developing nations where its impact can be most powerful.