The Vocational Village Programme

Country Profile: Indonesia


249,866,000 (2013)

Official Language

Bahasa Indonesia

Other spoken languages

Javanese, Sundanese, Batak and Bugis

Poverty headcount ratio at 2 PPP$ a day (% of population)

43.3 (2013)

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

96% (2006)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years, 2015)
  • Men: 98.9%
  • Women: 99.1%
  • Total: 99%
Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 2015)
  • Male: 96.3%
  • Female: 91.5%
  • Total: 93.9%


Programme Overview

Programme TitleVocational Village
Implementing OrganizationDirectorate General of Early Childhood, Centre for Non-Formal and Informal Education Region 2 and the Vocational Village Committee
Language of InstructionBahasa Indonesia
FundingDirectorate General of Early Childhood, the Centre for Non-Formal and Informal Education Region 2
Directorate of Curriculum and Training, the District Office of Education
Date of Inception2009 – 2011 (independently after 2011)

Context and Background

The Vocational Village Programme was piloted in Gemawang Village in the Jambu District of Semarang Regency, Central Java Province and, as a result of its success, has since been implemented in 35 other districts across the province. The rationale behind the Vocational Village was to build upon successful literacy programmes that have already been implemented in Indonesia with the addition of life skills education. As most participants come from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds, life skills education is necessary for income generation and livelihood development. Literacy skills also need to be incorporated into the daily activities of participants.

Indonesia is home to a population of 237 million people that inhabit around 6 000 of the country’s 17 000 islands. It is a diverse population, with as many as 300 ethnic groups speaking about 680 different native languages. The national language is Bahasa Indonesia, also known as Indonesian. Central Java Province, where the Vocational Village project is based, is the third most crowded province after West and East Java. In 2007, about 1 766 422 of its inhabitants between the ages of 15 and 64 were looking for employment. The province is also one of nine Indonesian provinces to have a total of more than 200 000 people with low levels of literacy. According to the Ministry of Education and Culture (2012), Central Java has the second highest number of non-literate adults out of all 33 provinces. As there is a widely recognised correlation between illiteracy and poverty, it is necessary to raise levels of literacy in Central Java, as well as the country as a whole.

Despite the low levels of literacy on the island of Java, however, the Indonesian government has a long history of promoting literacy, initiating its first literacy campaign in 1945. The Indonesian Ministry of Education considers literacy to be “a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. It is a pre-requisite for other types of learning and is crucial for every child, youth and adult. It is essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.” The Constitution of 1945 includes an initiative to improve the well-being of Indonesians by attaining education for all. Since establishing the Constitution, the Indonesian government has placed great value on the development of literacy and income-generating skills, and many adult literacy initiatives in Indonesia are designed primarily to improve entrepreneurial skills in order to generate income.

From 2006 to 2009, the number of non-literates in Indonesia decreased from 12, 88 million to 8,7 million. This decrease was a result of the literacy initiatives that were put into place and the country’s strong recognition of the importance of raising literacy levels. More recently, the Indonesian Ministry of Education has focused on accelerating literacy initiatives and, as a result, two important events occurred in 2006: Indonesia joined the UNESCO Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) and the Presidential Instruction No.5 was signed, making the literacy initiative a national movement and strengthening partnerships between different ministries.

The LIFE initiative is “a key operational mechanism for accelerating progress towards achieving the goals and purposes of the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD), by targeting countries with the greatest literacy needs.” Indonesia is one of nine countries in the Asia Pacific region that is part of LIFE and, along with China, it has reached the highest adult literacy rate among these nine countries between 2000 and 2008 (92%). It is also on track to meeting the Education for All (EFA) goal of improving literacy by 50% by 2015.


Region 2 of the Development Agency of Non-Formal and Informal Education (P2PNFI) falls under the Indonesian National Ministry of Education. Its main duty is to develop learning models that can be used by both governmental and non-governmental Non-Formal Education (NFE) institutions. These models are developed on the themes of Early Childhood Education and community development, providing levels of education equivalent to elementary school, junior high school and secondary school. Courses usually cover a period of four to twelve months and are divided into two forms of vocational training: 1) Courses for those looking to gain employment (e.g. sewing, computer use, and mechanics) and 2) courses for those looking to start their own business (e.g. catfish, cattle, goat or vegetable farming).

Since 2009, the Directorate for Community Education has been developing programmes focused on improving skills such as basic literacy (reading and writing), income-generating skills, family literacy, disaster prevention skills and preparedness, and local arts and culture (i.e. the importance of preserving cultural heritage). In 2009, the P2PNFI developed a model for a Vocational Village, which would build upon existing programmes by adding a focus on entrepreneurial skills. It would equip learners with practical skills to be used for running a business and generating income, thereby becoming empowered members of the community. The programme was developed with input from participants to ensure it was based on their specific learning needs.

The Vocational Village

The Vocational Village is a community centre in a rural area where villagers can receive vocational and entrepreneurial skills training. Learners can put their newly acquired skills to practical use by either seeking employment from someone else or by creating a ‘business group’, which is a group of five to ten participants that agree to start a business together.

Entrepreneurial skills are defined by the Ministry of Education and Culture as “the ability of basic entrepreneurship skills trained through productive learning and income generating skills which could raise literacy levels and income of learners, either individually or collectively as one of the efforts of literacy enhancement as well as poverty alleviation.”

The Vocational Village pilot project was launched in Gemawang, Jambu District, Semarang Regency, Central Java Province, which has a population of 3444 (1673 women and 1771 men). Of this population, around 20% are farmers who own their own land, 22% are farmers who do not own their own land, 52% have an unidentified occupation (e.g. women working in the home, unofficial employment that is only partially paid) and 6% have other occupations, such as police officers, businesspeople, teachers or civil servants. Roughly 10% of the population in Gemawang have never attended school.

The original project lasted a total of three years. In the first year, 250 people joined the programme and, after the third year (2011) the programme was able to sustain itself. The village was consequently turned into a prototype that could be used for further research, apprenticeships, support, education and training for any institution with an interest in the village. Eventually, the model was replicated in 35 other districts across the province. The framework of the programme is below:


Reasons for the development of a Vocational Village in 2009

• Although the farming sector had not been harmed by the Indonesian economic crisis of 1997, and had actually even created jobs, many rural areas were still lacking efficient use of available resources. Many villages remained poor, which led to much immigration from rural villages to cities. The Vocational Village Programme was piloted in Gemawang as a method of generating income in rural communities.


The aims of the Vocational Village Programme are: * To foster skills and self-reliance * To manage national resources without damaging the environment * To create business groups based on local potential and skills * To provide information, marketing networks and to help in the acquisition of a production license * To become an independent organisational mechanism

Recruitment of Facilitators

Three parties work together to ensure the smooth operation of the Vocational Village Programme: the Vocational Village Committee, the Programme Assistant and the facilitators. The committee is chosen by members of the community and the Programme Assistant must be a professional with experience in the field of vocational skills training. Programme facilitators are volunteers, business practitioners, institutions related to the specific vocational skills taught in the particular Vocational Village (e.g. farming, health, small business industry or tourism), or university lecturers, or teachers from vocational schools or other academic institutions.

For the original Vocational Village in Gemawang, some facilitators were trained by the P2PNFI developers of the programme. However, most facilitators did not require training since they were recruited as experts in their fields of interest.

Recruitment of Learners

Learners are from the local area where the Vocational Village is established. They are recruited by the Vocational Village Committee based on what they intend to do with the skills they would learn and which resources they have available.

Teaching and Learning Methods

There were 14 different courses available at the Gemawang Vocational Village: batik painting (traditional cloth painting), sewing, fish farming, medicinal tree farming, website creation, coffee production (from planting beans to serving coffee), farm counselling, rabbit farming, indigo (a natural dye for batik) farming, fruit farming, entrepreneurship, business management, charcoal production and fertilizer production. Each course had a training design, a curriculum, a syllabus and learning materials, and consisted of 30 % theory and 70 % practical work. The curricula are developed by the committee in cooperation with experts in each area of skills training.


To date, 35 villages have established Vocational Village Programmes and a total of 255 people have participated. As a result:

Lessons Learnt

Monitoring and evaluation

The Vocational Village Programme was monitored and evaluated by village developers from P2PNFI on a monthly basis from 2009 until 2011. Aspects such as curricula, programme facilities, learning kits, and learner and facilitator attendance were monitored. P2PNFI also monitored and evaluated the process of how businesses were established by participants in the programme.


The Vocational Village received financial support from P2PNFI for the first two years of the programme (2009 – 2010) and, since 2011, the programme has been sustaining itself. Each district in Central Java has five Vocational Villages. Several factors led to the sustainability of the programme:


Contact Details

Heru Priambodo
Centre of Early Childhood, Non-Formal and Informal Education Region 2 (PP PAUDNI) Regional II
Jalan Diponegoro 250 Ungaran Semarang
Tel: (62-24) 6921187
Email: heruprima (at) or adekoesmiadi (at)