Dutch VET students in Indonesia.

story: Thijs Rutters

images: Thijs Rutters


The welcome was unforgettable! A clear blue carpet, a banner with beautiful words of welcome, traditional Indonesian dance and an enthusiastic audience:  it was an impressive arrival at the SMK1 (Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan) in Maros on Sulawesi. SMK1 is a VET school that offers, among other things, a 3-year course in fish farming. Students of the, Stein Honders, Robin Bronswijk and Tijs de Boer traveled to Indonesia for 2 weeks in June, together with their coach Roelof Schut and teacher Thijs Rutters. Below is a report.

The presence of these “good looking” students from made the reception completely overwhelming. The girls of SMK1 were so enthusiastic about the gentlemen that they were applauded as pop stars. In a collaborative project between PUM Netherlands and, within two weeks, a number of improvements to aquaculture education were implemented in the school with  SMK1 staff. SMK1 has been designated by the Indonesian government as one of the schools for secondary vocational education that must take a leading position in the field of fish farming. We are working hard to achieve that goal and our journey was part of it. Thijs Rutters is a teacher of Aquaculture at and also an expert for the PUM. This collaborative project is carried out for PUM (the Netherlands Senior Expert program). In this case, the expert was assisted by three MBO students from

RAS still little used for fish farming in Indonesia.

The school in Maros has various facilities for aquaculture training. In a number of covered areas, mainly tilapia but also catfish are kept in concrete tanks. A covered area is specially designed for keeping parentstock, the other partially covered areas are intended for grow-out. In addition, there are a number of classrooms with aquariums and plastic containers. A challenge in education at SMK1 is the management of the facilities and providing up-to-date practical lessons. One of the things that has improved in two weeks together with colleagues from SMK1 is the management of the Tilapia parent stock farming system. The focus here was mainly on improving the water quality and optimizing the procedures for harvesting the eggs. Among other things, a system has been created to increase the oxygen content of the spring water through aeration before it goes to the fish. When improving matters, account has been taken of the way in which matters are carried out in practice at the companies. The way in which the facilities are used and the way in which work is carried out during the practical lessons at SMK1 must be in line with the working methods of the local companies.


Vocational education for RAS, aimed at the local situation, is the first step.

It is also important to transfer new insights to the students of SMK1 so that they can also contribute to the further development of the sector. The latter is one of the reasons to set up a RAS system at SMK1. RAS is not yet widely used on Sulawesi. Most fish (Tilapia and Milkfish – Chanos chanos) are grown in ponds and cages. This will not change in the short term, except perhaps for the rearing of the fish fry. That is why it is important for the students of SMK1 to become acquainted with RAS and learn to work with it. The advantages and disadvantages of RAS and the possibilities of this system in the local field are also discussed.

The contribution of the Dutch students​​​​​​​

Stein, Tijs and Robin of the ‘Sportfishing and Water Management’ course have passed the elective ‘Working in aquaculture’ in the 2nd year. In the last year of their training, they used the knowledge and skills they had acquired on Sulawesi.

The Zwolle students have designed a simple, small RAS system in the Netherlands. This system is suitable in the fish hatchery and for raising fish fry. The parts were taken to Indonesia and there the system was built together with employees, teachers and students of SMK1 with locally available construction materials. Subsequently, several training sessions were held in which water quality, feeding and growth and the maintenance of a RAS system were discussed. At the moment there is also still contact with fellow teachers on Sulawesi to familiarize them with the cultivation of fish in RAS. The teachers have to get used to the completely different way of growing, but are very enthusiastic about it. There are already plans to build a larger system and to make RAS part of the educational offer.

Dutch MBO students contributed to the development of RAS education in Sulawesi. The preparation and implementation of this project was part of the Proeve van Bekwaamheid (MBO exams) of Stein, Tijs and Robin. Sport fishing and water management teacher Roelof Schut was present in Indonesia for the assessment of the students. Based on feedback from the teachers and employees of SMK1, the students successfully completed the final interviews on location. In terms of content, the students of have shown that they stand their ground and can make a valuable contribution to the professional field. However, this project was very educational for them in many ways. Working in a different culture with different habits in a different climate requires different skills than those normally used in the Netherlands. And it is nice to see how the students solve unexpected challenges. A replacement of the UV lamp that had died during the flight turned out to be more difficult to obtain than they were used to. In Indonesia, this requires significantly more searching than two clicks on the internet. The language barrier with the students and employees of SMK1 was quickly overcome by downloading a translation app. A spoken message was directly translated from Dutch and English into Indonesian. And, where previously the results of the translation mainly caused extra confusion, the quality of the translations is now so good that actual communication is possible.

Finally, it is nice to mention that Stein, Tijs and Robin all passed their education. They received their diploma on 4 July.

(Source: Aquacultuur Magazine, NGVA:



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