TVET teachers, a reflection on trends in Indonesia and Australia

Jul 22, 2015 | Issue 5


Experiences of working on a range of projects connected with Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and professional development of educators and trainers, in both Indonesia and Australia, have contributed to the authors exploring trends and issues in the preparation and professional development of TVET teachers in the two countries. Whilst both countries are concerned to develop a skilled workforce, their policies and approaches to the TVET educators and trainers have different emphases. In Australia, there are concerns for quality, delivery and outcomes of the TVET sector. Recent policies and reduced financial support particularly of publically provided TVET are diminishing opportunities to undertake TVET education and training, reduce opportunities for learners and impact on the societal context. Indonesia aims to increase TVET delivery.
Whilst Australia has made substantial contributions and hence influence, to TVET in Indonesia, its near neighbour, Indonesia and Australia are in different spaces in relation to TVET policy and development. Indonesia is aiming to increase the provision of TVET to young people through private and public institutions, which in turn impacts on the preparation and professional development of TVET teachers and trainers. Australia is emphasising the private provision of TVET rather than public provision, especially in one state, Victoria, and with minimal teacher/trainer preparation and professional development.
This article explores the approaches taken by the two systems to train the next generation of TVET teachers. It also draws upon the Bandung Declaration developed by Cairns & Malloch (2013b) at the UPI 2012 conference which emphasised the importance of quality TVET teaching, delivered by capable, professionally developed teachers with relevant pedagogical and industrial knowledge and experience. Such recommendations and goals form a basis for the critique and consideration of the TVET policies in Indonesia and Australia.

1 Introduction

The preparation of teachers for the vocational education and training sector has been a subject of growing concern by educators and researchers in Australia. Australia has relatively low unemployment, a highly casualised workforce and an increasingly deregulated training sector. In a population of 21.3m, in Australia, there are 470,000 in apprenticeships and traineeships nationally, with 122,000 in Victoria. At the same time, youth unemployment at 17% (and higher in some regions) for 15 – 19 year olds, remains steadily higher than the national average of 5.3%, for Australia (Kwek, 2013).

Table 1: Government subsided enrolments by provider type, 2008-2012

  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 % change 2008-2012
ACE 73,800 68,300 63,800 64,600 80,200 9%
PRIV 54,000 57,400 99,800 220,700 308,800 472%
TAFE 253,500 251,100 263,300 263,500 281,400 11%
Total 381,300 376,800 426,900 548,700 670,400 76%
Source: Victorian Training Market Quarterly Report Q3 2013, DEECD, Melbourne, 31.

As evident in the Table above, student enrolments in the VET Sector in Australia, indicate a massive shift from the government or public funded sector to the private training sector. For many in the public education sectors this raises concerns for access, equity, quality and accountability. Stephen Ball (2007, 126 -127) writes of this shift in the school sector in the UK, with consequent shifts in values, economic priorities, forms of curriculum, testing and evaluation. As he notes, the shift to privatisation

“… involves changes in the meaning and experience of education, what it means to be a teacher and a learner, but is also part of a broader social dislocation. It changes who we are and our relation to what we do, entering into all aspects of our everyday practices and thinking – into the ways that we think about ourselves and our relations to others, even our most intimate social relations. It is changing the framework of possibilities within which we act. This is not just a process of reform`; it is a process of social transformation.”

Such a shift impacts on the students, the teachers and trainers as well as the wider community. There is increasing government encouragement for market driven private provision of VET and consequently, staff numbers and courses in public sector VET have been cut dramatically over the past two years. Questions are being raised as to the quality of the training provided particularly in the private sector. Within this context, Australian preparation of TVET teachers appears as minimalist, requiring a basic qualification at an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF Council 2013, Wheelahan & Curtin 2010) level lower than an undergraduate degree. The acceptance of a minimum level qualification for VET educators combined with increasing casualisation of the workforce contributes to their deprofessionalisation in a system experiencing policy, systemic and financial challenges.

Changes observed in Australia include an impact on the TVET teachers and trainers. The initial training is of variable delivery quality and is at a low level for entry to a profession. Professional development is difficult to access given the steady erosion of working conditions, with casualised and portfolio work.

Indonesia has a well established and increasing private provision of TVET. The table below indicates the preponderance of the provision of education by private organisations, as seen in the number of Academies, polytechnics and advanced schools.

Table 2: Public and private tertiary educational institutions in Indonesia.

Form Public Private
Academies 1034
Polytechnics 32 140
Advanced schools 1043
Institutes 10 43
Universities 46 345
Total 88 2605
Source: Helmy (2014)

Indonesia is emphasising more vocational education and training for young people to raise the status of TVET. ‘The government, aiming to reduce high unemployment rates among educated youth, pledged to reverse the current share of high school students, from 70 percent general to 70 percent vocational by 2015’ (Newhouse & Suryadarma 2009, 2). The plan applies to upper secondary general schools versus vocational schools. This ambitious goal will contribute to new demands for TVET teachers in Indonesia. This is reinforced by the UNEVOC World TVET country profile (2014) which identifies two key challenges for Indonesia’s TVET system as:

−   Lack of sufficient correspondence between the practical training and skills taught in TVET institutions and the demands of the labour market; and

−   Uneven balance between teachers with academic and practitioner background in TVET institutions, where the latter are underrepresented.

The Teacher Law of 2005 requires that all teachers complete a four-year higher education degree by 2015 (UNESCO-IBE 2011). This is an ambitious goal.

In Australia, the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment is the qualification for people teaching in technical and vocational education. Whilst the Certificate IV is not necessarily a requirement for employment, employers generally expect staff to gain the qualification within the first few years (Wheelahan & Curtain, 2010, 33). This has been a cause for discussion and debate. It is estimated that ‘nearly all trainers/teachers and assessors in TAFE, and about 80% of those in the non – TAFE vocational education and training sector, hold a post – school qualification. ‘However, not all vocational education and training practitioners engaging in training and assessment activities hold the minimum qualification required for vocational education and training teaching (the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment) or an equivalent qualification.’ (Productivity Commission 2011, cited in the National Skill Standards Council, paper on Improving Vocational Education and Training, 2013, 5). It is estimated that approximately 65% of TAFE teachers, trainers, assessors are employed as casuals and work in both training and industry (National Skills Standards Council 2013).

Concerns arise as to the quality of the training and assessment in VET if the teachers, trainers, and assessors are not well qualified for their roles. The quality and competency of the VET workforce is questioned particularly in relation to ‘the depth and breadth of the professional capabilities of trainers/teachers and assessors’ (National Skills Standards Council 2013, 11) This particularly relates to being able to address the needs of disadvantaged learners, to conduct recognition of prior learning and work based delivery. In reporting views of VET teachers, one respondent notes the lack of deeper learning:

“The Certificate IV is a minimum qualification for a trainer and its advantage is its national accreditation, but it does not encourage reflective thinking and ignores similar higher level cognitive abilities.” (Wheelahan & Curtain 2010, 34)

It is also possible for trainers/teachers to work under supervision, and the NSSC review notes concerns as to whether the skills and knowledge of those supervised are sufficient to teach, and suggest that these people should have the enterprise trainer skill set. Other issues include maintenance of industry currency (National Skills Standards Council 2013, 28)

2 Trends in the preparation of TVET teachers in Indonesia

The provision of education to its population of 246.6m is a major task and the development of teachers is key to being able to achieve this. Kurnia et al (2014) provide an overview of the regulations and qualifications required for TVET teachers and lecturers in Indonesia. There are two key regulations, from 2005 and 2007 which apply to all educational institutions, therefore vocational education is included. All teachers have to be qualified for their profession which includes the standard of academic qualifications and competencies of teachers.

The teacher standards (Permendiknas 16/2007), among other things, define the core competencies of normative and adaptive subject (social and natural sciences) teachers in vocational schools together with those for teachers in general upper secondary schools. Core competency standards for teachers of vocational subjects are not defined. These competencies are divided into four areas: (1) pedagogic, (2) personal, (3) social and (4) professional competencies (see table 3).

Table 3: Teachers’ core competences

Pedagogic competencies
  1. Be able to deal with learners’ physical, moral, spiritual, social, cultural, emotional, and intellectual characteristics
  2. Master learning theories and principles of teaching and learning
  3. Develop curricula for her/his teaching subject
  4. Organize learning that educates
  5. Use information technology and communication for the benefit of learners
  6. Facilitate the development of learners’ potentials
  7. Communicate with learners in an effective, empathic and polite manner
  8. Conduct assessment and evaluation of learning processes and results
  9. Utilize assessment and evaluation results for learning
  10. Take reflective action for improving the quality of learning
Personal competencies
  1. Act according to religious, legal, social norms and the Indonesian national culture
  2. Present her/himself as a honest person with noble character, and set an example for the students and the community
  3. Present her/himself as a person who is stable, mature, wise and authoritative
  4. Demonstrate work ethics, high responsibility, pride in being a teacher, and selfconfidence
  5. Uphold the code of ethics of the teaching profession
Social competencies
  1. Be inclusive and act objectively without discriminating on the basis of gender, religion, race, physical condition, family background, or socio-economic status
  2. Communicate effectively, empathetically and politely with fellow educators, other school staff, parents and others in society
  3. Be able to adapt to diverse socio-cultural contexts in the workplace in different parts of Republic of Indonesia
  4. Communicate with her/his own or other professional communities orally, in writing or by other means
Professional competencies
  1. Master the concepts, structure and material, and possess an analytical mind set in her/his teaching subject
  2. Master the basic competencies and subject-specific competencies of her/his teaching subject
  3. Develop teaching material for his/her teaching subject in a creative manner
  4. Develop her/his professionalism continuously through reflection
  5. Use information and communication technology for self-development
Source: Permendiknas 16/2007, non-official translation in Kurnia et al. (2014, 10-11)

There are competencies for all teachers, with no specifically identified competencies for vocational teachers who do not have specific identified competencies. There is an emphasis on education, equity, and a concern for students, ethics and professionalism. Trends for preparation of TVET teachers focus on qualifications, competencies to be demonstrated, knowledge and skills, industrial experience, and pedagogy – understanding and teaching ability. Vocational teachers are expected to have a bachelor’s degree with a relevant subject area, have passed their teacher certification, and have worked as a teacher for a minimum of 5 years (Kurnia 2013, 43). The Professional Teacher Certification process, is a practical training programme for TVET teachers, a main path for becoming a professional teacher with a higher salary form 2015 (Kurnia 2013, 43). The Teachers Core Competencies provide for a positive framework; the realities of how this translates into practice are more challenging.

Newhouse & Suryadarma (2009) raised challenging points from their research into choice of senior secondary schooling in Indonesia, noting that private vocational schools tended to attract the lowest scoring students. They considered the choices of schooling and the impacts of such choices on the wages of the graduates, finding that male public vocational graduates were experiencing a drop in wages. They consider this may be reflective of shifts in the types of skills required in the Indonesian economy. Their research questions the wisdom in the policy goals to have a majority of students in vocational education and whether such an undertaking is possible. It also has implications for TVET teachers, especially their preparation to be able to educate and prepare for work, a diverse range of numerous students.

“Most importantly, the analysis provides little evidence to support the current expansion of vocational education. The results fail to show systematic benefits for public vocational graduates compared to public general graduates, despite reasonably precise estimates. Furthermore, the wage penalty for male vocational graduates, in recent years, has increased dramatically. This decline has occurred as Indonesia’s industrial sector has sharply slowed and the service sector has become increasingly important to economic growth. This suggests that it may be worthwhile to review, and possibly reform, vocational and technical education in male-dominated subjects.” (Newhouse & Suryadarma 2009, 33)

The goals to increase TVET participation for secondary students to 70% of upper secondary students by 2025 (Kurnia 2013, 29) remain, albeit a major challenge to achieve. As is the case internationally, Indonesia is concerned to raise the skill levels of the populace and is investing to achieve this. Indonesia spends 20% of its annual budget on education, a major commitment. Nurkholis & Petrik (2014) argue that TVET could be improved by focusing more on didactics and learner centred teaching methods in the training and professional development of teachers. They also note that TVET practitioners should be encouraged to research best practice in teaching. The competency based Indonesian Qualifications Framework (IQF) provides a framework for TVET, for learners and the teachers. It also provides opportunities for learner centred approaches to be used rather than teacher directed approaches. There are excellent examples of learner centred teaching and action oriented learning in TVET (Nurkholis & Petrik 2014) which could serve as models for the sector.

Current issues include how collaboration with business is refining the demand focus of TVET, and how the technological revolution requires an adequate fit between TVET supply and demand. There are also challenges in matching standards and certification towards mutual recognition; industry certifications and occupational standards are important in augmenting the quality of TVET institutions.

3 Trends in the preparation of TVET teachers in Australia

A study by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) put the total number of VET workers (TAFE and non-TAFE) at about one million (Mlotkowski & Guthrie 2008). This is a large number of people working as teachers, trainers and assessors in vocational education and training. The workforce has become increasingly casualised and with the increasing privatisation of the sector, there are fewer opportunities for professional development or further qualification updates. The minimum and indeed the maximum qualification for VET teachers, trainers and assessors are the Certificate IV Training Assessment and Education. (AQF Council 2013, 15)

The Certificate level in the Australian Qualifications Framework is quite a low level (Level 4 of the Framework which goes to Level 10 (PhD) at its highest). In January 2013, the Australian Government issued a revised version of the Australian Qualifications Framework. Of relevance to this discussion, is that the basic VET Teacher Qualification, Certificate IV, is 3 levels below a Bachelor Degree (AQF Council 2013, 15). The descriptor of Level IV below indicates the expected skills and knowledge.

Table 4: The Certificate IV Qualification Type Descriptor


The Certificate IV qualifies individuals who apply a broad range of specialised knowledge and skills in varied contexts to undertake skilled work and as a pathway for further learning


Graduates of a Certificate IV will have broad factual, technical and theoretical knowledge in a specialised field of work and learning


Graduates of a Certificate IV will have:

–    cognitive skills to identify, analyse, compare and act on information from a range of sources

–    cognitive, technical and communication skills to apply and communicate technical solutions of a non-routine or contingency nature to a defined range of predictable and unpredictable problems

–    specialist technical skills to complete routine and non-routine tasks and functions

–    communication skills to guide activities and provide technical advice in the area of work and learning

Application of knowledge and skills

Graduates of a Certificate IV will demonstrate the application of knowledge and skills:

–    to specialised tasks or functions in known or changing contexts

–    with responsibility for own functions and outputs, and may have limited responsibility for organisation of others

–    with limited responsibility for the quantity and quality of the output of others in a team within limited parameters

Volume of learning

The volume of learning of a Certificate IV is typically 0.5 – 2 years. There may be variations between short duration specialist qualifications that build on knowledge and skills already acquired and longer duration qualifications that are designed as entry level requirements for work

  Source (AQF Council 2013, 36)

Of particular note in these specifications of the Certificate IV level are the two last sections, namely the “limited responsibility for organisation of others”, “with limited responsibility for the quantity and quality of the output of others in a team within limited parameters” and finally the key aspect of the “volume of learning” needed to complete the qualification, specified as “The volume of learning of a Certificate IV is typically 0.5 – 2 years”.

This emphasis that holders of this qualification should exercise “limited” responsibility (mentioned twice) and operate in apparently assisting (or we can assume, “teaching”) others “within limited parameters” does not appear to offer anything like the responsibilities or autonomy educators should aspire to or have as teachers.

The period of time for the delivery and “volume of learning” for the Certificate IV is described as being between 0.5 to 2 years of instructional/study time (with possible Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and experience is a key quality issue in the Australian scene. Many Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), that is, private companies legally recognized to offer training through accredited Training Packages, including the Certificate IV, offer a wide and varying range of hours of instruction and volume of learning for the delivery of the Certificate IV (Cairns & Malloch 2013a).

Guthrie, McNaughton & Gamlin (2011), Guthrie (2010), and Wheelahan & Curtin (2010) have made key contributions to research into VET teachers in Australia. Wheelahan & Curtain (2010) argue from the basis of their research into VET teachers, for a program to develop VET teachers from induction through entry level qualification, that followed by a higher level qualification in their area of vocational specialisation. Guthrie (2010) advocates an end to the minimalist and regulatory approach towards a basic qualification so that other qualifications can be accessed. Ongoing professional development is also advocated. Smith and Grace (2011) and Smith (2005) have similarly raised concerns about the preparation of vocational educators with particular reference to the lack of pedagogical qualifications that industry qualifications are higher than those for vocational educators, who have been left out of the focus on VET in Australia.

Two smaller scale studies also contribute to the reflections on TVET teachers and trainers, Cairns & Malloch’s (2013a) project into perceptions and the preparation of VET teachers and trainers and Helmy’s (2015) case studies on the work of TVET professionals in partnership programs with industries and other organisations in Indonesia. The learning from these studies contributes to considerations for future development of TVET professionals and teachers. They note the challenge to develop VET teachers and their dual identities.

4 Findings from the field

Participants in Cairns and Malloch’s study (2013a)were from a cross section of public and private providers of training in the state of Victoria, from teachers to Chief Executive Officers, urban and rural locations within one state in Australia. Interviews with these stakeholders provided a range of responses to the training provided by the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and its revised form as the Certificate IV in Training and Education. A key theme emerging from the interviews was the need to meet the requirements for staff to have the Certificate IV qualification. Many of the managers were amenable to achieving this as quickly as possible. This meant that the course, designed to have a more extended period of time, is frequently delivered in very short time frames. Ensuring teachers’ awareness of compliance to meet the regulatory requirements was regarded as important.

A Program Director – Health at a rural Technical and Further Education Institute saw the role of the Certificate IV as establishing boundaries for teachers within a system which requires compliance:

“So, if I talked about firstly is the training of teachers. I think the most important thing is that they understand – at least of have an understanding of teaching to begin with, so at a minimum of a Cert IV in Training and Assessment to understand the packaging rules and what’s, you know, what they are allowed to and not allowed to teach to and from then from there I think they then need to understand the system we work in, and the compliance issues, but foremost they need to actually understand the packaging rules and what their boundaries are for being allowed to deliver the qualifications we put forward. From there, there’s quite a lot of compliance associated and a lot of administration associated with as well these days.”

There was criticism of the Certificate IV as a preparation to be a teacher/trainer. The Director of a private registered VET consultancy was critical: “If the Cert IV was taught well it would address – or at least at an adequate entry level – these values (with reference to quality, professional development, professionalism and pedagogy) but we have lost sight of what teaching well is.”

Thus there was a concern for a focus on teaching and on the learner. Learning was a key concern for the Executive Director of a VET Professional Association: “The key challenge is the situation of the learner,’ focusing ‘on the learner is central and paramount.” This stakeholder listed being able to facilitate a learning process, understanding how adults learn, being able to establish engagement between the teacher and student, and an understanding of adult learning and pedagogy as important.

The Certificate IV in Training and Assessment has been updated to a Certificate IV Training and Education which was regarded as an improvement on the previous program. Industry currency was regarded as important, with some teachers/trainers working part time in industry, others hoping that their employers would support industry experience and others coming up with innovative ways to update staff. The Director of Industry Programmes (Trade Courses), explained how Automotive VET teachers “keep in touch” with Industry: “We….in the automotive department over at XXX Campus, they deliver training like that, plus the boys spend a lot of time out in industry”.

For the teachers the training was frequently a positive, “New VET teachers like the training packages because they guide them.” For a group of teachers working in a registered private training organisation, they emphasised an exploration of teaching as important, asking “what is good teaching?”

Deprofessionalisation was an issue with one teacher involved in delivering the Certificate IV emphasising that: “It is a challenge to get people to see VET teaching as a profession in itself.” In the shift from public to private, from regulated to deregulated, marketised training, concerns still remain as to quality, equity, access, and learning of the learners, and importantly a consideration as to the people who teach, train and assess the learners as to their professional capability to teach and to support the learners and to also advance the vocations.

The views expressed by the stakeholders in the study of perceptions of the training of VET teachers/trainers/assessors varied in relation to their place in the sector. CEOs, and Directors tended to a more critical view of the Certificate IV as not being sufficient, managers presented a cross section of views, pleased to meet compliance and quality requirements however pleased if staff had other qualifications. Teachers, especially those with a range of qualifications were concerned about the quality and calibre of the delivery of the Certificate IV and the type of teachers emerging from such programs; many topped up the teaching they did drawing on their other qualifications and experiences to enhance their teaching.

Whilst Indonesia has its own goals for enhancing delivery of TVET and for the preparation of TVET teachers and trainers, there are indications of TVET overall is moving in similar directions as Australia, that is increasing privatisation, which raises concerns as to the situation of teacher preparation and professional development. In privatised systems it would appear that a high level of teacher preparation is not necessarily a priority. Nurkholis & Petrick (2014) from their research into action learning in TVET are advocating national attention to learner centred teaching and training in TVET.

Helmy (2015) indicates trends in Indonesia which echo those in Australia. Terms such as ‘demand driven’, ‘decentralised management’ and ‘self managing’ organisations resonate.

Table 5: Indonesia: a summary of past and future trends

The Past   The Future
A supply-driven system based on a large social demand   A demand-driven system guided by labour market signals
A school-based system delivering ‘diplomas’ upon examination   An education and training system delivering competencies in accord with nationally recognized standards
A school-based system with minimum flexibility in delivery An education and training system with multiple entry/exit points and flexible delivery
No official recognition or prior learning A system which explicitly recognizes skills and competencies wherever and however they are obtained
A school-based system with a study program orientation An education and training system oriented towards officially recognized profession and trades
Education and training focused on the formal sector Education and training both for the formal and informal sector
Separation between education and training Full integration of education and training from a cognitive science perspective
Centralised system of management Decentralised system of management
Institution/organisations fully supported and run by the central government Self-supporting and self-managing institution or organisations with partial support from the central government
    Source: Helmy (2014)

In Helmy’s study of partnerships between TVET institutions and business organisations, business organisations reported that working with private training institutions enabled them to achieve their goals, a more bespoke service which reiterates the national trend to privatisation.

“And to be honest the service we get from those private training providers who can provide any one of a number of types of management, supervisory or human resource type training [means that] the service we get is much better. They are much more willing to do what we want, rather than us constantly having to try and get what we want.” (IP1, Interviewee, 2011)

Support for the development of professional development materials for TVET teachers benefitted from partnership activities:

“People on the management level were very supportive from the beginning. Anything we needed in connection with training materials and in terms of technology was provided. We sat together with IP3 to set the standards for the training materials from the beginning that would be presented to the vocational schoolteachers to ensure they would be very professional training materials” (VET P3, Interviewee, 2011), (Helmy 2015).

TVET teachers were certainly not being neglected in such regional partnership arrangements.

5 Conclusion

The shift from a public to a private provision of TVET is the current trend, the dominant political and economic agenda, and an agenda in which the user, that is the student and/or the employer pay for the training (Malloch & Cairns, 2014). It is a shift in values, in priorities, in policy, implementation, management and outcomes. Clearly it is not a simple public versus private debate on the provision of TVET; it is more complex and is a shifting landscape. However, concerns for quality remain, as to the quality of the training the students receive and the quality of the preparation of those who will deliver the training. Indonesia is experiencing a similar policy shift. Ball writes of this as ‘destalisation’ (2007) and Jessop of ‘destatization’ (2002) where the state is less involved and where there is a “redrawing of the public-private divide, reallocating tasks, and rearticulating the relationship between organizations and tasks across this divide” (Jessop 2002, 199) Certainly these are the current trends in Australia and in one state in particular, Victoria. This is also evident in Indonesia. What is different is the recognition, certainly by researchers in the field, on the teacher professional education and professional development for learner centred approaches to their work.

The Bandung Manifesto developed at the UPI 2012 Conference (Cairns & Malloch 2013b) emphasises that quality is important for vocational education and training teachers, and that they need to be skilled people in their vocational areas of expertise and to also have had professional teacher education and preparation. There is a concern internationally that TVET teachers, trainers and assessors be well prepared for the work of teaching and learning, that they be able to join other education professionals as equals. The learners in TVET deserve a quality education.

6 Concluding reflections

There are considerations in Australia to raise the level of training required for teachers/trainers/assessors in VET to a Diploma level. Whilst this is still at a lower level than a bachelor degree, and a positive direction, which could provide for an improved preparation for TVET teachers, this is not yet on an official agenda. The quality of TVET education and teaching remains a concern amongst education professionals.

Indonesia has set major goals of shifting a majority of students into TVET and with that the challenge to develop the teachers, a huge undertaking. It is recommended that all countries be mindful of the changes made to TVET systems. It is perhaps an optimistic goal that the professionalism and professional status of teachers in TVET be important in our respective societies.


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