SEMARANG – Vocational School of Diponegoro University (Undip) signed a Cooperation Agreement to assist 18 Vocational High Schools (SMK) in achieving status as Centers of Excellence, on Thursday (23/12/2021). This collaboration is a form of community service from the Undip academic community.

The Dean of Undip Vocational School, Prof. Dr. Ir.Budiyono, M.Si, said that most of the  Vocational High Schools were located in the Central Java Province, and some are in the West Java Province. “the mentoring activities of Vocational Schools to Become Centers of Excellence carried out by Undip Vocational School were carried out from July 14, 2021 to December 31, 2021. We agreed to follow up on these mentoring activities through collaboration in order to develop the Tri Dharma of Higher Education,” said Prof. Budiyono after signing the cooperation.

It was stated that the Centers of Excellence Vocational School Program was one of the priority programs of the Directorate General of Vocational Education of the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2021. The goal is to support the development of Vocational High Schools with certain expertise programs so that they experience quality and performance improvements, by strengthening partnerships and alignment with the Business and Industrial World (DUDI), as well as strengthening cooperation with local governments and vocational universities as companions. “The goal is for Centers of Excellence Vocational Schools to become a reference center for improving the quality and performance of other Vocational Schools,” he explained.

The scope of this cooperation agreement uses a harmonization system between the Study Programs at the Vocational Schools involved and the majors at Centers of Excellence Vocational Schools with related fields of science in the D4/S1 Applied Vocational School Study Program Undip. With this collaboration, graduates of Centers of Excellence Vocational Schools can continue their studies at the Undip Vocational School. “Indeed, at this time, vocational education in Indonesia is still not the main choice of high school graduates. However, the government continues to make breakthroughs so that vocational schools become popular for young people.”

This condition is different from what happened in a number of developed countries. For example, in Germany, where vocational education has become a popular choice, where high school graduates and the equivalent go to vocational education institutions. “This is a challenge for Undip to prepare for advanced vocational schools like developed countries,” he explained.

Referring to the existing data, in Indonesia there are only 8.5 percent of vocational students. This condition is considered unsatisfactory, because ideally the minimum number of vocational students is the same as academic students.

Meanwhile, the Undip Vocational School Coordinator for Centers of Excellence Vocational Schools, Dr. Seno Darmanto, S.T., M.T., said there were eight plus programs in the mentoring carried out by the Undip Vocational School at the Centers of Excellence Vocational Schools. They are assistance in curriculum alignment, guest teachers, teacher internships, field work internships (PKL) for students, vocational practice assistance, technology update assistance, fast track equivalent to D1/D2 and other activities that support programs or establish an independent learning ecosystem.

This program provides certification assistance for vocational teachers and students; applied research assistance, especially supporting teaching factories and mentoring in relation to vocational alumni in the working field; continuing studies; and entrepreneurship. There are also scholarships for students, facilities and infrastructure at Centers of Excellence Vocational Schools, and laboratory equipment.

The signing of the cooperation agreement between Centers of Excellence Vocational Schools and Vocational School Undip can be developed into an activity plan in the specific scope of study programs, priority activities, details of activities/tasks and responsibilities, work partners, and others.

A number of school principals said that they were very happy to be working with the Undip Vocational School. Therefore the participation of this program can be linear. On the one hand, the school principals hoped that their students could continue their studies at the Undip Vocational School  after graduation.

The 18 Centers of Excellence Vocational Schools assisted by the Undip Vocational School are SMK Muhammadiyah 2 Muntilan, Magelang Regency; SMK N Nusawungu, Cilacap; SMK N 01 Blora; SMK N 1 Klaten; SMKN 2 Rembang; SMK PGRI 2 Taman, Pemalang Regency; SMK Baruna Dukuh Waru, Tegal Regency; SMK Taruna Pulokulon, Grobogan; SMK Al Alif Tunjungan, Blora; SMK Wisudha Karya, Kudus; SMK NU Kedung Tuban, Blora; SMK N 1 Wadaslintang, Wonosobo; SMK N 1 Bawang, Banjarnegara; SMK Buana Bahari, Cirebon; SMK AKPELNI, Semarang City; SMK Matesih, Karanganyar; SMK Mutu, Pemalang; and SMK Islam Diponegoro, Brebes. (PR team)