Using Just Ink and Paper, HP Takes Coding to the Impoverished Streets of Indonesia

The project generated 50k engagements in a single night

"Street Code" had "difficult but rewarding" written all over it from the very beginning.

We set out with our client HP to close the digital divide in one of the world's more impoverished nations. Our goal: to teach street children in the capital city of Indonesia to code using just paper and ink.

Jakarta has more kids living on the streets that just about anywhere else. And in a country that is embracing tech like no other, the gulf between the haves and have nots is growing ever wider. Our way of tackling this pervasive societal issue simply had to be unconventional.

Now, the audacity of instructing youngsters anywhere to learn coding without computers is one thing. But to get kids from notorious slums—who rarely, if ever, even attend school—to join in was a rougher challenge altogether. These kids live a hand-to-mouth existence of extreme poverty. Attracting them to our makeshift school under a freeway bridge took extra care and planning.

We enlisted the help of renowned artist Darbotz, who came from the very streets where we wanted to make a difference. Over the years, Darbotz has built a visual language that connects with authenticity and understanding, using paste-up graffiti art (paper, paste and print) to get his message across. When we approached him with our concept, he was only too willing to create the initial invite to the class. Together, we posted his invitation across the city to spread the word.

HP provided printers and infrastructure necessary to maintain four-week coding classes. Our education partner Prestasi Junior helped in creating a bespoke curriculum. Our Edelman team did the rest.

The raw talent that we uncovered was impressive, and the kids quickly took to creating code. Using only paper and ink, they transformed Darbotz’s signature "monster" motif into a giant AR-activated poster and digital activation.

We projected the work in downtown Jakarta, against the side of an office building where potential employers would see it. The response was overwhelming, with 50,000 engagements over the course of a single night at a packed media event.

What makes me most proud of this work is the impact it generated. The Indonesian Ministry of Education endorsed and adopted "Street Code," making the classes available nationwide, and has put forward a business case for further funding. Most importantly, the kids themselves have gained valuable first-hand experience, bringing the digital age well within their reach.

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Tim Green
Tim Green is CCO at Edelman APAC.

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