COULD UPSI BE THE CATALYST FOR CHANGE?

UPSI could be the catalyst of change for all other universities

Brief history of UPSI

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris began as a teachers training college in 1922, then renamed Sultan Idris Training College (SITC) and became Maktab Perguruan Sultan Idris in 1957 and upgraded to Institut Perguruan Sultan Idris in 1987. In was turned to Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris on 1st May 1997 where many things start changing for one of the oldest functioning institutions of higher learning in Malaysia.

It has a new campus now and the university will shift to its new location soon, near Proton City as the whole project is already completed at the end of 2011 and now within the Defects Liability Period. From afar we can see that the buildings do look nice but like all UMNO-crony-linked projects there will be a lot of defects and malfunctions. In the rush and rather secluded from public scrutiny there will cracks on the walls, uneven floor and wall surfaces, undulating pavement, tiles dropping off, leaks, blockages, electrical malfunction and it would not be surprising that something will collapse soon. But all these will be in another story.

The purpose of UPSI and ultimate neglect; breeding discontent

The main intention of the formation of this particular institution – to produce teachers compatible to the British, has now morphed to two main purposes; to produce more qualified teachers compatible with UMNO’s ideology and then use these teachers to spread UMNO ideology to the students. This is still going on.

The problem with any organization is when it has been running too long with no real improvement, everything becomes mundane and mediocre. Unfortunately the UMNO/BN government is not interested to improve the quality of the university when people at the top are also mediocre in standard. This is further aggravated by the fact that several people in the top management are political appointees –  they serve UMNO and not interested in the welfare of the students and the university at all. Thus the overall quality of the UPSI has fallen down so much that the graduates from UPSI are facing the dilemma of unemployment.

UPSI; a sub-standard university

The main UMNO representative in the UPSI that have been the mastermind in this matter is none other than the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Affair & Alumni ) Dato’ Paduka Dr. Junaidi b. Abu Bakar. This unqualified individual and the poor standard of the UPSI now is reflected by what was written in the official UPSI website; http://www.upsi.edu.my/en/senat whereby on this page even the English spelling for CHANCELLOR was written as “Canselor”!

When the standard of this university has fallen so low, the morale of their students also went south. The main reason for the lack of high class academicians is because UPSI has diversified the courses and it has stretched its resources thus whatever is being taught in UPSI is mediocre. UPSI has no core and main professional courses other than producing teachers which it now has been neglected such that it can’t compete with other universities that can produce graduates like for example engineering, which would also enable such graduates to be teachers in schools and lecturers in many institutions. Thus it is not surprising that many of the graduates meant for teaching produced by UPSI have to compete with the graduates from other universities and many of the unemployed graduates now are teachers from UPSI. To add salt to the wound, Muhyiddin has also announced that teachers from UPSI will not be guaranteed employment and have to find their own ways.

False hope and disappointment

Many who entered UPSI want to become teachers and as the UMNO/BN government has emphasized that all teachers in the secondary schools must one day all have a degree and therefore it is the right step for all aspirant teachers. However the academic staff re-shuffle was done at the expense of transferring experienced staffs in the Faculty of Education and Human Development relegating it to just a department producing sub-standard teaching graduates. This further adds to their disadvantage in the job market.

So much so that many graduates from UPSI who were supposedly to have confirmed places for teaching all over the country are still unemployed as teachers some of them have waited for as long as four years and many have given up. Of course with a teaching degree, they can still find work but it won’t be what they really like to do and this affect their productivity doing something else and the salaries they received will not be on par with their degree; in fact if any of them were to be employed as sales promoters or general clerk, the degree they earned is not relevant at all. This dilemma and the inevitable predicament has resulted in dissatisfaction with the UMNO/BN government in particular the Ministry of Higher Education and this anger has spread within the UPSI campus knowing that their fate will be as bleak as their seniors and no wonder UPSI produced the first Adam Adli. Based on random survey 60 percent of the undergraduates in UPSI are not happy with UMNO.

Biro Tatanegara module backfired

Like all Malaysian universities, UPSI has also the minor but compulsory subject on “Kenegaraan” (Nationhood), whereby the group of students form all courses will be able to listen, ask and argue on certain topics presented by the selected students. This is more to the approach by the Biro Tatanegara to inculcate in the students’ mindset to accept the UMNO agenda as what the UPSI was supposedly must do. In these classes, the students are free to say what is relevant and even question UMNO. Although when judging by the participations it would seem that the majority of the students still blindly support UMNO yet slowly, the whole plan has backfired! The students started to ask questions and the session does not stop there, it continues to be discussed from then onwards until the cyber space.

The UPSI students also asked why does UMNO/BN allow the academic staff to play politics and yet the students are not allowed? They also pointed out that the UUCA has curtailed all students’ activities and academic freedom to the extent that nowadays the universities in Malaysia are just an extension of the secondary school except that they don’t have to wear school uniforms.

In the Adam Adli episode, instead of playing down the incident, Najib has instructed his people to react in a disproportionate way that put more oil on the burning flame, such that Adam Adli has been elevated to the status of a hero instead of the valiant. Thus more students’ organizations have braved themselves in support of Adam Adli and the students in Universiti Malaya have responded to the call for support by the angry students by organising another demonstration in support of SMM.

Second police brutality on UPSI undergraduate resulting from Najib’s bad performance

The demonstration in UPSI held on the eve of 2012 was meant to be peaceful and in the hope that there will be a change in policy as the New Year resolution for the UPSI. The UPSI students were also anticipating the presence of the prime minister who was to attend  a dialogue, an event organized by the UPSI to explain and pacify the students but the hope of the students were dashed when Najib cowardly decided not to attend. Najib could have attended by 8.00 pm and leave by 11.00 and with the motorcade and police outriders he would still be on time to celebrate the New Year eve elsewhere as planned.

Instead, the coward Najib sent the FRU to disperse the students by force leading to hurting Safwan Anang until he fell into a coma. Fortunately he survived and can start talking today. Why can’t the police be the guardian and protector of peace instead of instigating the scuffle? The police personnel won’t be getting much from doing that, yet Najib and Dr. Junaidi are the ones who will get all the rewards. PDRM will just be hated, ridiculed leaving its already tainted image to be distrusted as consider as the UMNO dogs. PDRM says that they have the video to prove that Safwan Anang hurt himself. That is the similar sentence when the Deputy Public Prosecutor told the court that Teoh Beng Hock could have strangled himself to death!

Ibrahim Yaacob

The history of active students’ movement in UPSI started as early as 1930 against the British led by the Sultan Idris Training College (SITC) students’ head – Ibrahim Yaacob. At that time they were the cream of society with strong minds and clear thoughts; they were the highly regarded teachers in Malayan society and it was not surprising that they were against the British. The UPSI students today have started to emulate Ibrahim and have revived the movement fighting against colonialism by UMNO in our universities and our beloved country. Let us all pray that they will succeed at least to a certain milestone.

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