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close this bookTrends in Articulation Arrangements for Technical and Vocational Education in the South East Asian Region (RMIT, 1999, 44 p.)
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The Republic of Indonesia consists of more than 13,000 islands, with a population of about 195 million. The island of Java, is densely populated with about 60% of the national population, and contains the largest cities in Indonesia. The capital Jakarta has a population exceeding 15 million people.

About 50% of the population of Indonesia is still engaged in agriculture. Manufacturing and the provision of services have been sectors of the economy demonstrating increasing growth. However, recent economic disturbances have seriously effected the financial stability of Indonesia.

Manufacturing sectors include textiles, clothing and footwear, food processing, electrical/electronics, automotive, pulp and paper, and chemicals.

Gross Domestic Product


Indonesia 1994














Other Services


Financial services


Indonesia has a system of primary/secondary education based on 6 years of primary education, followed by 3 years of junior secondary education and 3 years of senior secondary education.

Primary education is tending towards universal provision, although in some remote areas not all students complete 6 years of education. Efforts are being made to extend the compulsory attendance of children at school through to year 9. Currently about 45% of children aged 13-15 years attend junior secondary school.

Education at senior secondary school is provided through the following types of school:

· Academic Senior Secondary School (SMU)
· Technical/Vocational Senior Secondary School (SMK)
· Madrasha (Islamic) School

Academic senior secondary schools provide a 3 year curriculum which leads towards entry to a higher education institution. The majority of students entering senior secondary schooling opt for this type of education in preference to the offerings of the technical/vocational senior secondary school.

Technical/vocational senior secondary schools are seen as leading directly to the world of work, and offer 3 year programs intended to produce graduates to serve the needs of Indonesian industry at the skilled worker level. Schools of this type tend to specialize in particular vocational areas such as economics and business, engineering, agriculture, art and craft, building, etc. In 1996, there were about 3000 private and 700 government senior secondary technical/vocational schools. Enrolments in these institutions was about 1 million in private schools and 500,000 in government schools. (2)

Although senior secondary technical/vocational education schools were seen as providing a steady stream of skilled workers for the Indonesian workforce, it has been found that only about 20% of graduates proceed to employment. (3)

There is a reluctance of parents to place children in secondary technical schools. This matter was commented on in 1995 by Professor Dr Hasan Walinono, Secretary General, Ministry of Education and Culture who was of the opinion that when given the choice between secondary academic or secondary technical education for their children, ‘parents tend to choose general education for their children because they can maximise their utility’. (4)

Higher education in Indonesia at undergraduate degree level and above is delivered through universities, institutes and (tertiary) schools. In addition, there exists the publicly funded Universitas Terbuka (Open University).

Private provision of education is significant at all levels in Indonesia, particularly at the secondary and postsecondary levels. Indeed most postsecondary education is provided by private educational institutions.

The significance of the private sector in the provision of formal postsecondary education in Indonesia is reflected in the following table:

Higher Education Institutions (5) Indonesia 1994



Other government



















Private institutions of higher education in Indonesia largely concentrate on the fields of social science and humanities. (6)

Private postsecondary education has a very long history in Indonesia, extending back to the period of Dutch colonial administration. Encouragement for private education grew in the post independence period, and since the 1950s has undergone significant growth. Many public universities and institutes that have emerged in Indonesia have had their roots in private colleges, which have subsequently been taken over by the state. (7)

Postsecondary Technical and Vocational Education

Indonesian postsecondary technical and vocational education is delivered through a number of educational bodies including universities.

· Diploma courses

Full-time diploma programs up to 4 years in duration, are offered through polytechnics, some universities, institutes and academies. Courses offered at the diploma level include studies in engineering, business studies, tourism, forestry, etc.

Indonesian diploma granting entities differ in terms of their structure and awards:

Academies are single faculty institutions

- Diploma programs.

Polytechnics are multi faculty institutions

- Diploma programs.

Schools often only one faculty

- Diplomas and some undergraduate degrees (SI)

Institutes have university level status

- Diplomas and undergraduate degrees.


- Diplomas and degrees to PhD.

Diploma level courses are seen as being applicable for occupations at the advanced technician level. Diploma courses have a vocational rather than an academic focus and are designed to be terminal in nature, leading directly to employment.

Entrants to diploma level courses are overwhelmingly graduates from academic senior secondary schools, although it is possible for those from technical/vocational senior secondary schools to gain entry.

· Other programs

Also included in the category of postsecondary programs might be the non-formal programs of vocational and skills training provided by government and private entities, and industry training centres. Students at such centres may not have completed their secondary schooling, but have left school.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, through the Department of Manpower Training has 31 (BLK) Worker Training Centres offering a variety of programs:

· Initial Training Programs

(1 year)

· Single skill training

(2-3 months)

· Multiskill training integrated

(3 years)

· Short upgrading programs (8)

Groups of medium sized companies have combined to establish group training units (CGTU). Up to 40 companies are served by each CGTU. A total of 75 CGTUs have been established in Java and Sumatra, covering about 300,000 employees. (9)

The role of private Indonesian training colleges is most significant. These offer a wide variety of short and medium term training courses. Private training colleges are closely attuned to the employment market and offer courses in response to demand. It is noted that about 20,000 such institutions exist and range from small shop-front centres to substantial urban institutions. It has been estimated that about 4.5 million students annually enrol in programs provided by private training colleges, and this sector has experienced strong growth. (10)


The scope for articulation of technical and vocational education students in Indonesia is significant but its practicalities are complicated, and not easily implemented on a wide scale at this time.

Entry to government university undergraduate degree courses from technical/vocational senior secondary schools is not possible, and reflects the intense pressure for places, which go to the most able students from academic stream senior secondary school graduates.

The possibility of entry to a government polytechnic diploma increases somewhat, but even here students from academic senior high schools tend to get more offers for placement. It appears that this is currently being looked at and may result in some modifications to the technical/vocational senior secondary school courses, possibly a bridging program for those desirous of entering a polytechnic. (11)

Generally, there is little scope for a polytechnic diploma graduate to articulate to a degree program at a government university, although this is looked at on a case by case basis. The numbers of students using this route is understood to be very small. (12)

There are some exceptions to this situation. If a student has the means, it is possible for students to circumvent the limited funded places at some government universities, including Universitus Indonesia (University of Indonesia), and gain entry to degree courses via fee paying extension programs. Extension programs are available to both school leavers and mature age students.

The situation in the private education sector is somewhat different. Some Indonesian private vocational colleges have links with private universities. If a graduate from a private vocational college has the ability, and the financial means, articulation/entry to a private university is possible.

The necessity to extend the availability of secondary and tertiary education in Indonesia is very great, but the resources to permit this to occur are limited, providing significant support of private education. (13) The need to improve the quality of education is also a matter for debate in Indonesia and is cause for priority consideration.

The extent of the need to expand provision of education might be seen by reference to the educational attainment of the Indonesian workforce:

Indonesian Workforce


Education Level Attained 1994


No schooling


Incomplete primary


Primary School


Junior Secondary


Senior Secondary (Academic)


Senior Secondary (Vocational)




Undergraduate Degree


By reference to the above table it is apparent that by 1994 only about 22% of the workforce had participated in schooling beyond primary level. Clearly the ability of the Indonesian economy to advance in a number of sectors is restrained by human resources.

Technical and vocational education is under significant pressure to improve the relevance of courses. The Link and Match policy promulgated in 1993 by Prof Ing Wardiman Djojonegoro, the then Minister of Education and Culture, encouraged greater links between education and the world of work, particularly at the senior secondary level. (15)

There is an awareness that future planning will require an education and training system that is more directed at the ongoing needs of industry and commerce, by way of flexibility of multiple entry and exit points. (16)