Valeriya Bonkova and Jacob Portelli will be going head to head during our KE/KPS Debate on Friday 5th May.
Members of KE, the Education Office within KSU, have a choice between Bonkova and Portelli to become the new KE Commissioner. The elected candidate will be working with the already-elected KSU Education Officer Gillian Asciak. The election will be held on Monday 8th May.
Valeriya Bonkova is a 3rd year Psychology student. She has gained experience in Betapsi as Educational Officer and more recently as President. She is also a Student Representative within the Faculty for Social Wellbeing.
Jacob Portelli is a 4th year Law student. He has occupied the roles of Public Relations Officer and then President within GħSL (Law Students’ Association), and is also a Student Representative within the Faculty of Laws.
Why did you decide to contest for KE?
Valeriya: In times of immense student apathy, yet optimal performance from student organisations and student representatives contrasting with little involvement from students, I want to bring a new approach. I want to implement an approach which truly puts students at the centre of their educational experience. I would strive to bridge the gap between students and their faculties, as well as students and their respective representatives, student organisations and KSU.
Two years of commitment in this field have helped my hear the voices of hundreds of students. This has shown me that if students feel their educational experience is represented at all costs, then they would be more likely to participate in and appreciate student activism. All this has encouraged me to take it within my responsibility towards students to develop a manifest which is based on experience, motivation and immense commitment towards better education.
Jacob: It was not a decision I took lightly. After years of positive involvement in student organisations and other campaigns that promote student activism, I could have called it a day and shifted all focus on my studies. However, I feel I have much more left to offer to the student body and shall not be giving up on this crucial work any time soon!
In my opinion, the Education Office within KSU is one of the most important branches for students to voice their concerns, ideas and opinions. It is undoubtedly a role that may create a platform for students to discuss and debate various ideas, and to ultimately bring about change. This office deserves the utmost respect and dedication, and I truly believe I can bring a fresh outlook towards its role within University.
Being a 4th year law student and faculty representative at the Faculty of Laws, I have already been faced with several educational issues directly linked to the law course and law students. Approaching such issues in a systematic manner, taking all factors into consideration and consulting with students to seek the best possible solution, is an approach I have learnt both through my studies and hands-on experience. Tackling these issues by reaching diplomatic solutions with the faculty and pertinent authorities has been a learning experience that shall undoubtedly benefit me in my role as Education Commissioner.
Which of your proposals will bring something new to the table?
Valeriya: The majority of my proposals are new ideas, but have nonetheless been evaluated based on my experience as a student representative. With regards to the actual experience of studying at UoM, I will be looking into the possibility of expanding library space, implementing study spaces within Faculties, proposing earlier publication of results and strengthening the process of ‘Revision of Paper’.
I will look into the structure of every course at UoM, gather students’ feedback and look into the possibility of amending these based on international standards. I will also be encouraging the inclusion of more placements within courses which lack this aspect, and strengthening of the already existing ones. I would organise workshops based on various skills that are crucial for students’ academic development.
In terms of student representatives, I have exhausted various options to encourage students to apply for the position of student representative, an area currently surrounded by apathy. I am proposing that all existing student representatives have consistent cover photos, a promotional video, lecture shoutouts and a face-to-face approach, especially targeted at post graduate students.
Whilst promoting the Viewing Gallery in general, I will be targeting Education Officers from students organisations in order to encourage them to attend KE meetings and attend Education Officers’ meetings, which I plan to schedule on a regular basis. To involve students in KE who are not part of any student organisation, I will be re-developing the concept of subcommittees with the aim of encouraging more student participation.
Jacob: I would not like to limit myself to one proposal. Personally I believe that my previous involvements have given me the necessary tools to take this office to a whole new level, one that will listen to all opinions and ideas, to discuss and ultimately act. I intend to be mature and professional in the actions I take, and will shoulder all responsibility for the actions KE takes.
All my proposals are centered around increasing student activism, taking a proactive approach on educational issues, involving students on educational matters more than ever before, recognizing the dedication shown by members and delegating power and the necessary tools to students who are involved and want to be involved. With all this in mind, and with clear evidence to back it, I believe all that I will bring something new to the table – something that we truly need!
One proposal I would like to highlight is the Standing Committee proposal. I am positive that the introduction of such a system shall help increase faculty representative participation as well as tackle issues in a proactive way.
Why do you believe you should be elected?
Valeriya: My priority in this candidature is to improve the educational experience of all UoM students. After two years of experience, I have seen what does and doesn’t work, and the most important issues which students are concerned with. This is why I’ve created a manifest which strives to include the vision of students by presenting approaches aimed at implementing a change based on the students’ needs.
I am also determined to continue listening to students’ needs throughout the year, to ensure a truly fruitful year for the Educational Office within KSU. Most importantly, I have definitely never been afraid to speak up for students in their academic concerns, and will continue to maintain this mindset. With this being said, I truly believe that no matter the elected candidate for this role, the most important matter is their commitment to putting students at the centre of their educational experience.
Jacob: Students deserve someone who is ready to listen to their concerns, issues and ideas. While student activism in whatever form reaps countless benefits, being a highly active student is no easy task. I believe all students contesting for the role should be applauded and encouraged to continue working in one way or another, because this is what makes us such a great and hardworking community.
I believe my previous involvement has helped me to gain the necessary knowledge and experience that will help guide me in this role. I have always put students’ interest at the forefront of every decision and the students’ voice is one I honestly know can bring about change! I truly believe that through a diversity of ideas and opinions we can reach the best decision, together. It is something I have and shall continue to put at the centre of all my work.
If the members who have been elected to represent students entrust me with the role of Educational Commissioner, I promise to create a platform where students may express their opinions and be heard – they can definitely count on my support.
Insite would like to wish the best of luck to both candidates, and welcomes you all to join us and The Yuppie for the KE/KPS Debate happening on Quad this Friday 5th May from 2pm onwards!
Johann Agius is a fourth year law student who is currently the CEO of Insite after fulfilling the roles of Public Relations Officer and External Relations Officer in previous years. He joined Insite as a writer and photographer in 2013 and was elected in the executive for the first time a year later.