Local Languages in Indonesia

16 November 2009 - A Other on Other in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


Bahasa Indonesia is the national language of Indonesia which is spoken by more than 222 millions people. Bahasa Indonesia is widely used in the country to communicate in school, government offices, etc. Bahasa Indonesia became the formal language of the country, uniting its citizens who speak different languages. There are more than 742 languages in the country which are still used widely in various regions of the country. Bahasa Indonesia has become the language that bridges the language barrier between Indonesian who speak different language.
As with other parts of the world, Internet has connected Indonesian user with the rest of the world. It plays an important role in facilitating information seeking and exchanges. However, there are still many Indonesians who are not yet able to benefit from the technology, even though access to the internet has become more and more affordable. The fundamental barrier is language. The majority of information found on the Internet is written in English. The average English proficiency among Indonesians, particularly those living in rural areas and small towns is very low. In order to overcome this language barrier, tools such as a machine translation tool can be developed to aid such users in searching and making use of information written in many languages that are available on the Internet.
Moreover the local search engine that uses Bahasa Indonesia can be used to educate people in finding information concerning education, health, and law. The education information can be developed to improve the quality life of the people in the remote areas such as school instructional materials for children, e.g. tutorial for teaching children how to read and write, etc. It can also contains material about agriculture, fishery, etc. so that farmers can learn about the best way to cultivate and fishermen can learn the best time or way to catch fish. Information about health is much needed by women to understand what they must concern in raising their children such as where they can find medicines, doctors, etc. or what kinds of food that are healthy for their children. Besides education and health information, people also need information concerning laws that apply in Indonesia. They must be educated about basic laws such as what are their rights as workers, their obligations in paying taxes for the lands, etc. All of this information can help people to live better lives.
Another problem that people have to face in the country is that there is a technology gap (a.k.a. digital divide) between people who live in remote areas and people who live in cities. Indonesia needs a lot of effort to connect all parts of the country because of its geographical configuration. The country has 13,000 islands, so it is not easy to build a nation-wide telecommunication system. As a result, there are many parts of the country that remain isolated because they are beyond the reach of the telecommunication system, not even telephone. In such areas, people are also left behind in getting quality education, health care, and awareness about laws. The implementation of language tools in Bahasa Indonesia will benefit people who do not understand English, and/or those who are not familiar with computers.

Speakers are as follows:
Mirna Adriani - Computer Science Department, University of Indonesia 
Hammam Riza - Technology Development and Implementation Agent, BPPT Indonesia
Sardjoeni Moedjiono - Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Indonesia

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