When the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) Manager for Communications and Fundraising Anthea Haryoko walked onto the stage in front of 400 people during the Think Tank Shark Tank competition at Atlas Network’s 2016 Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner, she had six minutes to convince a panel of judges that CIPS’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) component of its Affordable Food for the Poor Project deserved to win $25,000 in seed funding for the project. And convince them she did.
Launching on July 26, CIPS’s very first MOOC is a free, four-week online course for young Indonesians to learn about food trade from top economic experts, taking participants through valuable knowledge about how food trade works, and how Indonesia’s policies impact everyday lives — especially the low-income families who earn as little as $100 a month.
“The timing of our first MOOC on food trade protectionism was deliberately set right after the end of the Muslim fasting month,” said Rainer Heufers, CIPS executive director. “Consumers are still upset about outrageous Indonesian food prices due to a misguided food self-sufficiency policy.”
Indonesia ranks 21st in the Food Sustainability Index that measures food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture, and nutritional challenges. However, the index covers only 25 countries, making it a rather poor standard of measure. Meanwhile, Indonesia ranks 71st out of 113 countries in the Global Food Security Index that measures the affordability, availability, and quality of food.
During the first quarter of 2017, CIPS's media coverage was mostly about food trade issues, with at least 66 articles published.
According to Heufers, one university has already made the course mandatory for its economics students and other universities are considering following that example.
There is a course app called "Akademi CIPS" on Google Play that allows people to participate in the MOOC on Android phones, and an Apple app premiering in a few months. The course and the app are both in Indonesian.
The MOOC is part of CIPS’s Affordable Food for the Poor project, a three-year project starting this year in researching the impact of the government’s policies on food prices and advocating for policies that Indonesia should adopt in order to achieve lower and stable food prices so that poor families can put more food on the table.
As part of the overall project, CIPS also created the Monthly Household Expenditures Index to show how much money trade protectionism makes consumers waste.
“Every month, the index compares supermarket prices of key food items in Indonesia versus neighboring countries,” said CIPS Manager for Communications and Fundraising Anthea Haryoko. “It calculates how much money Indonesians wasted every month because food is more expensive compared much more affluent societies in the region."