UiTM Sabah Polytechnic Collaborative Conference : Insights from the 2nd International General Studies Conference (IGesCon)

The first IGesCon in 2021 was held virtually on September 7 and 8, and was a collaboration between the Faculty of Education at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and the General Studies Department at Politeknik Kota Kinabalu (PKK), with the support of the Ministry of Higher Education and Kolej Komuniti Malaysia. It was themed “Embracing Technology in Teaching and Learning as the New Norm” and included numerous sub-themes, such as action research and online teaching and learning best practises. It was an excellent academic initiative that benefited educators, academics, instructors, researchers, graduate students, and policymakers immensely.

The 2nd International General Studies Conference (IGesCon) was recently conducted virtually on September 6 and 7, 2023, jointly organised by The Academy of Language Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Cawangan Sabah, the General Studies Department of Politeknik Kota Kinabalu (PKK), and Politeknik Negeri Pontianak (POLNEP), Kalimantan. Its theme was “Striving to Achieve Sustainable Education Goals,” and its sub-themes ranged from teaching and learning to spirituality. There were four keynote speakers and more than 130 papers presented at the conference by educational institutions from all over the world.

The head of the Centre of Studies, Ms. Delia L. Olaybal, led a group of devoted language lecturers who made up the Academy of Language Studies (APB) of UiTM Cawangan Sabah. She took great care and interest in making sure that UiTM carried out its assigned tasks and responsibilities regarding the planning and actual conference days with due diligence. This time, UiTM Cawangan Sabah bagged the Best Paper Award in the Language Category. The team of researchers was Jenna Robert, Roseline Michael, Aries H. Joseph., Lindey Apolonius, and Sazirah Jaafar.

The teams from Politeknik KK and Politeknik Negeri Pontianak were knowledgeable and helpful to the UiTM team. Overall, it was a learning experience for the UiTM Cawangan Sabah team, as well as a resounding success that followed in the footprints of its predecessor. Monthly meetings were held virtually between the secretariats of the three organisations leading up to the big event. Since the majority of communication was in Bahasa Melayu, language was not an issue. The institutions got along well, which made for lively and productive conversations. Polytechnic KK, in the end, proved to be a seasoned leader of the conference.

Participants hail from as far afield as Mongolia and Indonesia. A group of people from both domestic and foreign public and commercial entities carried out the reviewing process. On the final day of the conference, there was an awards ceremony for the best papers presented at the conference. Online pedagogy and learning; educational policy; Islamic and moral education; language and technical and vocational education and training; and general studies were the five areas covered. UiTM Sabah took home the prize for the language category, but winners came from polytechnics all throughout Malaysia and Indonesia. Over the course of the virtual conference’s two days, four eminent speakers gave keynote presentations. Polytechnic Pontianak, Indonesia’s Dr. Didik Mohd Nur Haris, gave the opening keynote address on character development through faith in education 5.0. Then, Dr. Nelia Balgoa of the University of Iligan Institute of Technology in the Philippines delivered the keynote lecture, titled “International Migration and Education: Implications for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” On the second day, keynote speakers Professor Dr. Ting Su Hie of University Malaysia Sarawak and Dr. Malai Zeiti Binti Sheikh Abdul Hamid spoke about intercultural literacies and communication across multi-cultural societies, respectively, and the importance of appreciating cultural diversity as part of global citizenship.

IGesCon 2023 featured four parallel sessions spanning two days. Every session had three session rooms named after mountains in Sabah, including Kinabalu, Trusmadi, and Tambayukon at Politeknik KK. Each room averaged five to six Webex presentations. The concurrent sessions ran efficiently due to the presence of a moderator in each room who introduced the speakers and screened their video presentations. A panel of theme experts presided over each presentation and offered helpful criticism and development suggestions. Several APB English lecturers moderated and became session panels on behalf of UiTM Cawangan Sabah. Among them were Associate Professor Jasman, Joseph Alagiaraj, Jenny Mosikon, and Octavia Willibrord. The other committee included numerous higher education specialists. Overall, the conference was a success due to the professionalism of the moderators, panels, presenters, and attendees, which led to intellectually rewarding exchanges for all parties.

The 2nd International General Studies Conference (IGesCon), co-organised by the Academy of Language Studies at UiTM Sabah, Politeknik Kota Kinabalu, and Politeknik Negeri Pontianak, was a success and proof of education collaboration. The event was smoothly executed thanks to the Politeknik KK team’s careful planning and UiTM Cawangan Sabah and Politeknik Negeri Pontianak’s assistance. The participation of numerous presenters and the rigorous review process demonstrated the conference’s significance. In addition to learning, IGesCon 2023 supported intellectual growth and cooperation, advancing education. The success of this event sets a wonderful example for educational collaborative projects.