Wednesday, August 1, 2012

                                  Agricultural Products for sale in the areas around Lembang

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Yesterday we visited an SMK, which is a vocational school.  As a career and technical education teacher (vocational), I was looking forward to learning more about how schools in Indonesia prepare students for careers.  This one was for the agricultural sciences and I was so impressed with the staff, students and facilities.  More importantly, I was amazed at how far the Indonesian government has gone to support vocational education.
In 2000, during the Reform Era after Sueharto, the Ministry of Education took a good look at unemployment and decided to increase its support of vocational training.  Now, out of 3200 senior high schools, over half of them are vocational schools in over 170 different subject areas. Since that time, more students are graduating from vocational schools than from "regular" high schools.  In these schools they learn their math, science, language and other core subjects (including religion) and then take classes that prepare them in their career field.  All students participate in a internship in their 12th grade.
Speaking with staff and the head of this areas vocational schools I learned that they had a much closer relationship with industry who actually sponsors 3 month internships for all students about to graduate.  They also have business partners that advise on curriculum.  While we have advisory committees for each of our vocational programs in my school, we do not have strong partnerships with local business.  One way this has progressed in Indonesia is that the governor recognizes businesses who display CSR- corporate social responsibility, in partnering with local vocational schools to support curriculum and on-the-job training.  The students gain experience and knowledge of new industry technology and ideas and the businesses gain highly skilled new employees.
Students plant and sell crops in their fields and greenhouses to local buyers, including larger grocery chains.  They have some fairly advanced curriculum and lots of hands-on labs.  Most students go on directly to industry upon graduation- often times at the business in which they interned. Some also attend university for an advanced degree. 
I think the attitude here towards vocational education is much more open something that we need to adopt in America if we truly want to lower unemployment statistics.

This Wednesday we had a roundtable discussion with some of the teachers from SMAN 2.  Funny how teachers everywhere want the same things for their students and from their students.