Indonesian foreign workers are signing up for coding classes on days off

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Image: AFP/Getty Images

Indonesia’s foreign domestic workers have a way to pick up coding skills, thanks to new courses being organised in the cities they work in.

The two-month-long coding course, is being run by the Indonesian government’s Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf), and is similar to one it’s already started running back home for stay-at-home mothers, called “Coding Mum.”

Around two million Indonesians are overseas as domestic workers around the world. Roughly 125,000 Indonesians are employed as domestic workers in Singapore, and 151,000 in Hong Kong.

Bekraf, which launched classes in Singapore in early January, is slated to begin coding classes in Hong Kong this weekend.

The class underway in Singapore.

Image: coding mum

The agency plans to offer the courses in Malaysia, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia, but didn’t state when.

The courses have been immensely popular in Singapore and Hong Kong over 160 people have registered their interest for the courses in both cities.

Already, 10 domestic workers have graduated from the course in Singapore, with another 10 attending classes in Singapore, said Setia Darma, a volunteer with Coding Mum, who serves as its course coordinator in Singapore.

Another 40 will start the course this weekend in Hong Kong.

Homework on weeknights, after household chores are done.

Learning coding is not easy for these domestic workers they have to spend three hours there on their days off, and do their homework on weeknights, after their household chores are done.

“Most of them can only [code] once household chores are completed and kids are taken care [of] and go to sleep,” Darma said in an email to Mashable.

They also have to purchase their own laptops for class, which can be a significant chunk of their salaries.

Indonesian domestic workers are recommended a salary of S$550 ($394) per month in Singapore, according to the Indonesian Embassy, while domestic workers in Hong Kong get a minimum wage of HKD$4,310 ($554) per month. Both cities allow a day off for domestic workers.

Getting their coding on

The Coding Mum team said they adapted the courses for domestic workers, who usually have an equivalent of a high school diploma, compared to the average pre-university and college education for stay-at-home mums in Indonesia.

The original Coding Mum course featured HTML, CSS, Javascript and SQL database management, but the new courses offered to domestic workers have been divided into three levels, based on their difficulty.

A Coding Mum course in progress in Singapore

Image: Coding mum

Classes are also smaller because of the intensity of the course, where each mentor gets around 2-4 students each.

“We want all of them to be successful the class is not just one-way, there’s a lot of hands-on [learning], and we really sit together with them,” Darma added. “The mentors [guide] them so they can better understand the concept and [practice] of web programming.”

Coding Mum plans to recruit more mentors so it can expand each class size, says Darma. “I have to say this is not an easy task,” he added.

“We need to find individuals who [have] the relevant IT background and most importantly are willing to volunteer to help.”

Coders are in demand in Indonesia local ride-hailing company Go-Jek acquired two Indian startups last year in a bid to recruit programmers from the country’s talent pool, while Uber is seeking to bring skilled Indonesian coders in the U.S. back home, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The government has estimated that Coding Mum’s graduates number nearly 200, and many are IT entrepreneurs, while others have found jobs as developers or beta-testers by Indonesian tech companies.

Indonesia is aiming to add about a million more people to its creative workforce, which it hopes will number up to 13 million people by 2019.

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/04/19/coding-mum-singapore-hk/