Wednesday, 3 October 2012

KPS - KE Seminar Review

Today we take a break from telling you about seed-growing ... Greenhouse wishes to share with you a review about an event one of our members attended.. a very informative seminar organised by Kummissjoni Politika Socjali (KPS)[1] and Kummissjoni Edukazzjoni (KE)[2]

On the 15th and 16th of September, student organizations among which Greenhouse, were fortunate enough to have a seminar organized by KPS and KE which passed to us some skills which could be used in managing a student organization.

We had to choose which workshop we wanted, and I chose the one on Fair Trade, manned by Dr. John Axiak, head of  Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust.
Now, I am not uninformed on fair trade, but I did learn some things, such as that there are two certifications both with their positive and negative aspects. I had seen both on products, I just never realized that they were different I guess. John also told us some eye-opening stories, some even first hand, of the reality of fair trade and that sometimes, it is difficult to keep check on whether fair trade conditions are upheld. The importance of education and information are felt in this context: where structures and information for the workers are not in place, then it can actually not be fair trade and this brings the problem, of how you as a consumer can know.

The sustainability of stipends, was also an interesting panel discussion. The main point was that stipends are sustainable and different reasons were given. One saw stipends as an investment which contributes to further growth. The others saw stipends as necessary and only a small percentage of the money invested in higher education. There was a lament for the under-exploitation of international opportunities and the fact that most of the teachings are not applicable to the real world, two very valid points in my opinion.

On Sunday, the first session was on campaigning by Mr.Ralph Cassar which was extremely interesting and very applicable to what we do. He talked about some useful skills on how to get the message across. He emphasized that campaigning is not education, because it narrows the focus while education broadens and explores complexity. He also gave us some hints on how to develop propositions, press releases, the importance of graphics and such.

Afterwards we had RIDT, a campaign for research initiatives. He saw the organizations representatives as multipliers of this. He lamented the fact that we have no sense of pride for our University, probably because there is no real competition like abroad. I am going to add to this, my hope, that these research initiatives will not be mostly restricted to medicine, IT and the sciences, but also to all other areas of study, especially the arts which are well under-appreciated and under-supported in Malta. One has only to visit stands in promotional weeks at University to realize what students employers are seeking there and which students they are ready to fund.

After that there was a short informative session by Mr.Antonio Olivari from EUPA on funding opportunities. I do not think I can add more to that, the various funding schemes which we were told about will surely come in handy.

After a small lunch (I wish to thank whoever did my vegetarian meal, it was very tasty), we then had the final full session of the seminar. Professor Marie Therese Camilleri Podesta gave us some information on the Gender Issues Committee which works on gender perspectives and advices the council on gender equality. A thing which stuck me in this session was when she mentioned that at University promotions are assigned soley on the number of publications, which I did not know. A research which they conducted found that it generally took women three years more than men to reach the position of senior lecturer, among other things.

We rounded up everything by saying the main points of discussion in Saturday’s workshops. All in all, it was a very informative seminar, and the extensive notes which I took during these two days will surely come in handy in our projects. I, along with Greenhouse wish to thank the organizers, the Dar l-Ewropa staff, the speakers and panelists and everyone who contributed to making this seminar fun and successful. 

[1] KPS is short for Kummissjoni Politika Socjali, also known as KSU's Social Policy Commision. KPS brings together all student organisations on and off Campus, both senate and non senate recognised. KPS is mainly responsible for the development of KSU’s and student organisations’ social policy both on University-related, national and international issues.  The KSU executive is duty-bound to implement the Commission’s policies with no political discretion in this regard. 

[2] KE is short for Kummissjoni Edukazzjoni, also known as KSU's Education office. KE handles academic complaints to ensure students get the representation they deserve on campus. It promotes the gathering of feedback from students, through initiatives such as Rate Your Rep and Study Unit Feedback. It also maintains a good relationship with institutions and other bodies with academic interest, on and off the University Campus. The office also organises events which are of academic interest, which will enhance your knowledge of important matters and give you the skills you need to excel. It also organises the Graduation Speeches.

Written by Marthese Formosa, who attended this event.

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