At the ‘Digital Creative Indonesia’ event held by Indonesia’s biggest telco Tekomsel a few days ago, there were 68 locally made mobile products shown off. One of these notable creations is BSE, an application that provides around 1,300 educational e-books to be downloaded for free.
Previously, BSE (which stands for Buku Sekolah Elektonik, meaning ‘electronic school books’) was a program run by the government to provide digital textbooks that can be accessed by all students and teachers in Indonesia. The e-books are published by the Indonesian government itself after controversy over inappropriate content found in some books made by a non-governmental publisher. This program got massive support from Indonesian people since book prices in Indonesia are relatively unaffordable for many students.
More accessible on smartphones
But the original e-books program was impractical since the books could only be downloaded to a PC, so the system was not utilized enough. The revamped BSE is now an Android and iOS app made by Mahoni, a local startup developer. While PC downloads are still possible for these e-books, the smartphone apps should make the whole scheme more accessible and usable.
Ginting Sadtyono, the founder of Mahoni, tells us:
Mahoni decides to make this application (also running the server) after knowing the difficulties and impracticalities that happened during downloading the books from BSE (when made by Indonesian government).
Since its launch for smartphones on July 15 to coincide with the beginning of the new school year, the BSE apps are being used to download 20,000 e-books per day. Ginting says that amounts to three terabytes of data per month.
The tech challenges in Indonesia
Even though the apps are free, Mahoni promises to keep dedicating itself to developing the app and its features. There will be some added features on BSE soon, like page highlights, underlines, notes, and page sharing of books with other users.
With 1,300 books worth IDR 100 billion ($9.16 million), Mahoni hopes that BSE can be utilized for all 43 million Indonesian students from primary school till senior high school. That should help Indonesian students get a better quality education so as to better compete globally. Ginting added:
This is a treasure that can and should be used by all Indonesian students.
The idea of providing digital textbooks for free on a mobile phone is simply brilliant, but some people will still be left out of this technology, either due to poverty or little/no internet access. Mahoni sees this as a challenge for the Indonesian government. The founder tells us that Indonesians should look to the future and believe that those challenges will be overcome.
Mahoni also promotes Indonesian tourism
BSE is not the first Mahoni project in conjunction with the Indonesian government. Long before Mahoni created BSE, it began supporting the government with Eastjava.com, a tourism site dedicated to East Java. It won awards as the best tourism site in Indonesia in 2011/2012, thanks to its team going all over East Java to take thousands of photos and record hundreds of videos. The unique thing about Eastjava.com is that it is funded 100 percent by Mahoni, which means that the government doesn’t support it financially.
First launched in 1998, Eastjava.com now has five thousand pages of travel content, 50 maps and thousands of videos on Youtube. Mahoni also created the Travel to East Java Indonesia app which is also available for Android and iOS.
(Editing by Steven Millward and Paul Bischoff)