Abolishment of ELE as a compulsory subject in University
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The issue arises when I personally email the university administration on Extracurricular Learning Experience (ELE), enquiring about the relevancy of ELE as a subject as I personally found it to be irrelevant, seeing how other university campus (local or international) gave student a more liberal policy in their activism. The admin staff, in an email dated 4th of May 2017 replied as below;
“... although there are a lot of student like you who actively join activities outside of campus, there are even more student who did not, ... also ( to) fulfill the requirements from the ministry of higher education, we have to use ELE subject as the mechanism.”
Hence, as the university administration opened a platform with the University Town Hall on 1st of August 2017, for students to give feedback on certain issues, I participate in it in order to hear and be heard by raising the ELE issue directly to Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
It was the very nature of ELE itself which makes it irrelevant and should be totally abolish.
There, I argued:
- Students were categorically bounded by an invisible chain to join an events. This is due to the nature of ELE subject, where one has to fulfill a certain quota points every semester to pass. If they don't, either do post-programme reporting on time or join university events to collect points (although they actively join society projects, intellectual talks on other campus or organised by NGOs), they will be considered fail and have to repeat the ELE subject.
- This also breed a culture of hypocrisy, when students were joining, for instance intellectual talks or forums, just for the sake of getting points. These inorganic participation is feared to nurture a bad nature in the development of students as a future, contributing participants of society.
- It is a humiliation to the intellectualism of university students, where one is compelled to join (even when one don't want to) events like PC Games Competitions, Dance-off just because one has to pass the quota points of ELE to avoid failing.
- The nature of reporting, of self-evaluation of the things learnt from joining a program, is not empirical in the first place, beside becoming an additional, unnecessary burden to students. Besides, this is not in line with the new aspiration of the education system, as was said by the new Minister of Education in a press statement dated 7th of June 2018; an aspiration in eradicating burdens of self-evaluation reporting, as was what school teachers had faced with Skpmg2 system. This also discourage a higher student autonomy, which not is in line with the spirit of the new aspiration of the minister; which in giving universities autonomy to set their next QS World University Rankings, university should also give students autonomy.
- The nature of reporting, inhibits students activism like book reading, which is beneficial to self development as well as takes much more hours, but unfortunately not counted as 'events', as it is not defined within the current framework of ELE (i.e. credit hour) as a subject.
- The nature of ELE also limits students movements and activism only within the compound of the campus. This means, they will miss all the forums, talks and programs held outside the campus by NGOs, NGIs and private persons as they were too focused on joining events inside the university compound to ensure that they will pass the ELE subject. As such, Kuala Lumpur as the capital of Malaysia -which amass colossal intellectuals, reputable scholars and groups of reality eye-opener activists- suddenly became an alien country to university students, which contradict with the original aspiration of the current ELE implementation, that is to enrich student self-development.
- It inhibits students from the bottom 40 and lower middle class to work part-time to earn money to sustain their life, besides the need to pay more to join events.
In reply to my concern in the town hall, the Deputy Vice-chancellor said that -instead of considering all the argument of ELE irrelevancies to remove it- the reply was that the administration will look into the non-benefitting events and screen them out in the future.
Turns out -and as argued below, worst- up to present, that was not the case.
The Turning Point
Only two weeks ago, I was told by a friend that a senior of Applied Science Course has to suspend one graduation year (originally to finish study September 2017), because of this ELE issue.
He, beside has to repeat the subject (which mean repay for it), but also has to pay all other administrative fees such as ICT fees, library fees and insurance and maintenance fee amounting to a total of almost RM630.
When asked (university staff) again, why was this let to continue, up to a year since my feedback in the town hall? Why was all feedback, a call to seat-in with the university administration previously was totally ignored, choosing the defend the current system instead of the promise to look into it?
In an email reply, they were still defending the system, instead of looking into the system and see its deficiencies.
Hence, not having any more patience after following with the right channel, I hereby motion this petition to push the university administration and the ministry of education to look into this matter seriously.
- The ministry of higher education to remove any (previous or current) instructions to universities that impose any mechanism of compulsory extracurricular subject(s)/ reporting that burden the students.
- The university administration to act, with good faith and reason, to remove all red tapes. This include ELE as a subject, as well as the strict rules and protocols in organizing events that will only limit, the creativeness of students activism and exposure of students to the benefits outside of campus compound. The University should strive to (become the first to) open more barriers as was recently rallied by the new Minister of Education to public universities.
- The university to remove all previous records of outstanding students’ ELE subject (including previously ECA subject, before being replaced by ELE subject); to put it simply, a clean-slate of the system. This is to ensure that in the future, a repetition of this case (deferred graduation year because of ELE) would not happen again.
- The university to refund the loss, suffered by students due the the repeating of the ELE subject. This also include the other administrative fees (included automatically per semester) paid due the deferred semester. A claim department shall be open for students to make claims of their repayment of the subject.
- Students who do not want these kind of injustice to happen to another students again in the future;
- Current students who have had enough of the dead weight bureaucratic system, doing needless reporting comprising of self evaluation of the things one learnt from joining talks, forums or events;
- Current students who wish to see a higher inter-varsity interaction with other universities in KL, to engage and exchange ideas and projects with them seamlessly;
- Current students, from the bottom 40 and lower middle class, who found themselves tight around the belt every month, to find a source of finance to (willfully) join events;
- Current students who wished to have and see a higher student autonomy;
- Former students who agree with the abolishment of ELE as a subject, as it deemed to cause more disadvantages to their successors than with the absence of it;
- University students, intellectuals and scholars who support this cause, who wish to have a more engaging discourse, exchange of ideas and sharing of expertise with UCSI University;
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Muhammad ‘Izzat bin Mohd Radzi
Bsc. Actuarial Science
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