By Group 1.
Andri Djufri Said, Catur Hadianto, Noorman Effendi, Rio Budi Rahmanto, Yuni Suryati.
Indonesia and Germany bilateral relations should be further expanded in the fields of information and communication technology (ICT). While many European countries encountered economic slowdown (even recession) in the last few years, German’s economy has been pulling its weight to keep Eurozone’s economy afloat. The strong economic performance is partly due to German’s strong ICT sector and high-tech industries as the backbone of the German’s economy that is supported by a strong education system.
German ICT sector is one of the most innovative in the world with a share of 4.6 percent of the world’s ICT turnover in 2014 and German ranks the fourth largest ICT market in the world.[i] German ICT industry flourishes because it generates qualified and innovative professionals through its strong education system. Some 960,000 people are employed in the areas of information technology (IT), telecommunications, and consumer electronics. With revenues exceeding € 63.3 billion, IT held the largest share on German’s ICT market in 2014.[ii]
So, looking at the above situation, how should we translate this to Indonesia-Germany bilateral relations? If we focus on further enhancing ICT cooperation, what kind of ICT cooperation should Indonesia-Germany pursue? In this regard, the article would like to provide several suggestions on concrete ICT cooperation in education taking into account German’s competitive advantage in ICT.
Before moving into specific options, it is worth to assess, what has been established so far under Indonesia-Germany bilateral relations. In 2012 German’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, visited Jakarta and during her visit Indonesia and Germany signed the “Jakarta Declaration” – a Comprehensive Partnership agreement between Indonesia and Germany. The agreement provides a pave for closer cooperation between the two countries in the years to come.
Two years later, Chancellor Merkel met President Joko Widodo on November 2014 during the G20 summit in Brisbane. She conveyed an invitation to the President to visit Germany, and in response, President Joko Widodo visited Germany in April 2016.
One of the main outcomes of the Presidential visit is an agreement to intensify vocational education and training between the two countries. Both sides will take stock and ascertain the state of play in vocational education and training. Germany will take the first step to explore how Germany can strengthen the vocational education and training system in Indonesia and better anchor the system of dual vocational training. The process is intended to promote greater interest and participation of the private sector in the education system.
So, looking at the current bilateral relations, what can we learn?
ICT industry has proven to be an important catalyst for German’s strong economic performance. In this vein, Indonesia as a middle-income country needs to invest in education because Indonesia’s economy is moving from a traditional extractive economy to a manufacture and services-oriented economy. For this reason, in order for Indonesia to ensure continued strong economic performance, Indonesia must increase investment and promote education in the ICT sector. To achieve this goal, we would like to propose a number of options in terms of Indonesia-German bilateral relations.
First, promote scholarship for Indonesian students to study in German’s education institutions. So far, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) – funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) – is providing financial support for international students, including Indonesian students, to acquire education in German’s institutions. This should include closer cooperation and collaboration with Indonesian scholarship schemes.
It is worth to note that nearly all German universities are financed by the state. Even non-scholarship students are attracted to study in Germany because they do not have to worry or be overly burdened on tuition fees. According to DAAD, Indonesia has among the highest growth rate of students studying in Germany. During the year 2013 recorded a total of 2,875 Indonesian students studying in Germany and in 2014 increased by 11.7%, exceeded 3,210 people.[iii]
Second, promote vocational education cooperation between Indonesia and Germany, particularly in the ICT sector. Vocational education is clearly necessary to respond to the needs of today’s changing market. Vocational education prepares people to work in various sectors, including in ICT Industry or in supporting roles of various professions. By promoting cooperation and partnership with the Germany, Indonesia can improve the ability to learn and upgrade skills of Indonesian students/ workers as well as provide greater opportunity for their employment. Graduates can fill job opportunities in various ICT industries because it is associated with a certification that is owned by its graduates through Competence Ability Test. With these certifications, they have a greater opportunity to work or even create their own business.
Third, promote internship in German’s ICT Industry. The development of an internship program in Germany or in German companies in Indonesia would provide students or workers with first-hand working experience. The internship program would provide an excellent opportunity for Indonesians to develop and expand their valuable ICT skills and to learn German’s strong work ethic.
After considering the above options, we would like to suggest that both sides should focus on promoting vocational education cooperation between Indonesia and Germany particularly in the ICT sector. This is in line with one of main focuses of the Presidential visit last April 2016 and close cooperation in this field would be mutually beneficial. Indonesia could develop stronger education system and Germany could acquire skills ICT labor force in Indonesia. As more students and workers experience studying or working in Germany or in German companies in Indonesia, the more it will open opportunities for private sector cooperation and expanding business opportunities between the two countries. Creating jobs and business opportunities is an important common denominator for both Indonesia and Germany.
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