Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris or Sultan Idris University of Education (UPSI) is a Public Institution of Higher Education (IPTA) which plays an important part in the history of our nation’s education. This institution grows in stages from a college to a renowned university. The growth of UPSI was developped through three important periods whereby it started with the SITC period (November 29, 1922-1957, MPSI (1957-1987) and IPSI (February 21, 1987 – April 1997). On May 1997, the institution was announced and named Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris based on the Government gazette RU. (A) 132 & 133 dated 24th February 1997 under the Order of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (Corporation) and the Order of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (Campus) 1997.
The role of R.O Winstedt was clearly stated in the history of SITC as he was among those who came out with the thoughts of having a central college to train teachers and widen up the educational scope during that period. This thought arose as soon as he returned from a visit to the Java land and Philippines. The proposal was brought up to the Residents Conference in May 10, 1917.
He also proposed that the place where the college will be built should be on fertile land in order to suit the curriculum needs which were mostly based on agricultural skills. The location should also be within the railway, main road as well as the river networks. Another aspect that should be considered was that the population composition should be of a moderate number. In the process of looking for a suitable location, Tanjong Malim was seen as the most strategic and suitable place in meeting the criteria and geographical factors desired by Winstedt. In May 26, 1917 Tanjong Malim was officially chosen as the place for the construction of the college. Meanwhile, the proposal to name the college Sultan Idris Training College (SITC) was presented to His Royal Highness Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah and His Royal Highness granted the approval. The name of Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah was then immortalized as the name of this college to show appreciation towards His Highness contribution in the educational field. Almarhum HRH Paduka Seri Sultan Idris Musyidul Adzam Shah was the 28th Sultan of Perak and had ruled Perak from 1989-1916.
A 64 hectare land was purchased in Tanjong Malim for $49,000.00 to build a campus and the construction work began in August 1919. Buildings were designed with medieval gothic characteristics. The construction work of the college was completed in 1922. SITC was inaugurated on 29 November 1922 by Sir W. George Maxwell, the Chief Secretary of the Government of the Federation of Malay States. Beginning from 19 November 1922, about 115 first batch of male trainees were registered. A few days after the registration, five more trainees were accepted and the total amounted to 120 trainees. 70 teacher trainees from the first batch were from Maktab Perguruan Melayu Melaka and 50 were from Maktab Perguruan Matang. The total number of the teaching staff were four Europeans, seven Malay teachers, one weaving teacher from Manila and also an Al-Quran teacher from Matang. They were O.T. Dussek (Principal), M.R. Holgate, W.B.O. Sir Williams, D.H. Ghrist, Mohammad HAshim Hj Taib, Noordin Hj Harun, Ibrahim Dato’ Muda Linggi, Abdul Rahman Hj Muhyiddin, Hanafiah Md Saman, Mohamad Said Hj Hussin, Abdul Hadi, Mr. W Olaguera (Manila) and Lebai Jaafar Abdul Rashid (Al-Quran teacher). O.T Dussek was appointed the first SITC principal. The number of teaching staff increased in 1923. The increase in the teaching staff involved 10 Malay teachers and one Phillippines teacher. Initially, these teachers were the teaching staff from Maktab Perguruan Matang which was closed and some were from Maktab Perguruan Melaka.
The establishment of SITC was seen as the beginning of an era that influenced the thinking and educational spheres of the Malays. The Federation of Malay States Education Director, Sir Wolffe in his speech during the SITC inauguration said that, this day signified a historical day for the Malays because it (SITC establishment) was the starting point of the Malay’s vernacular education development. According to him, the Malays felt that this was a high recognition, and also a priceless appreciation for the improvement of the educational status for the Malay children.
SITC developed rapidly. The intake for the trainees were not only limited to the Malays in Malaya but it spread to Brunei, British Borneo and Singapore. In March 1924, SITC produced its first 58 trained teachers. The number of trained teachers produced had increased from year to year. In was in this era that the effort was begun to build a Malay civilisation through the use of Malay language. The Pejabat Karang-Mengarang became the official mouthpiece to uphold and raise the standard of the mother tongue. This effort was carried out by Zainal Abidin Ahmad or popularly known as Pendeta Za’ba.
The teacher training curriculum in SITC focused on the basic knowledge of teaching, besides handicraft and agriculture. From the moment of its establishment until then, SITC continuously excelled in contributing to the people and country. It was seen as the finest ‘university’ in training Malay teachers. In 1957, in fulfilling the requirement of the Razak Report, SITC changed its name to Maktab Perguruan Sultan Idris (MPSI). Starting from this date, MPSI upheld the Malay outlook, character and personalities; this came with the change in the administration of SITC which was handed by the Europeans to the Malay scholars.
Although the name of SITC was changed, its tradition became the root to sow excellence in the institution during the MPSI era and also the following eras. The role of MPSI was not only to train and educate future teachers, but to be a platform to express the voices of the scholars and also the Malay nationalists. The development of the Malay language as a corpus was enhanced with the introduction of creative traditional writing among teacher trainees and the teaching staff. This tradition had begun during the SITC era under the hands of Harun Aminurrashid and Punggok, but spread greatly during the MPSI era. It was during this time, several great poets, short story writers and Malay novelists entered the scene. Among them were A. WAhab Ali, Ali Majod, Kasmani Haji Arif, Awang Had Salleh, Hassan Ali, Othamn Puteh, Dharmawijaya, Kemala, Suhaimi Haji Mohammad, Shahnon Ahmad, Suratman Markasan S.N, Yura Halim and others.
On 13 January 1975, MPSI broke its tradition when it accepted 140 female students. This new development had created a new scenario in the MPSI tradition. Although female students were accepted, MPSI continued to move forward as an excellent and prominent teaching institution without differentiating status and gender.
The MPSI era ended on 21 February 1987 when its status as a college was upgraded to an institution to be known as Institut Perguruan Sultan Idris (IPSI). The IPSI era was more challenging due to its position to boost the aspirations of its citizens, the Malay society and also the ruling government to witness IPSI as the pillar of hope to increase the people’s educational standard, especially the Malays. Thus, IPSI initiated a far ranging step by introducing various plans. The plans included the introduction of the Kursus Sijil Perguruan Khas (KPSK) in 1987 and Kursus Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah (KPLI) which started in 1988. In 1993, the Twinning Course with Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM) was introduced in the fields of Malay Language and Physical Education.
The roles of SITC and MPSI in the IPSI era were further strengthened through a network of cooperation with other parties outside IPSI. Thus, IPSI went beyond its own scope and boundary. IPSI moved in line with the development of other public higher learning institutions in the context of realising the government’s aim in producing capable and useful manpower for the well being of society and the nation. The role of IPSI continued until 1993 in which the teacher training system adopted the integrated system whereby every teacher training college trained teachers for both the primary and secondary schools.
Ten years into its existence, IPSI entered a new era in 1997 when it was officially upgraded into a university. In implementing the government’s order through the Government Gazzette P.U. (A) 132 & 133 dated 24th February 1997, the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris was established, which was also known today by its acronym UPSI.
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) started its operation on 2nd May 1997 with a total of 350 students. Datuk Dr. Ashari Che Mat was appointed the first Vice Chancellor whereby Professor Dr. Abu Bakar Nordin (Dato’) became the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic. They were assisted by Encik Sayuti Sahlan, Encik Yusof Semahil and Encik Rusley Taib to develop UPSI during the early years.
With only 6 administrative staff and 29 academicians which were mostly borrowed from other agencies under the Ministry of Education, UPSI started the move into the education field with full determination and noble aims. Apparently, it is not easy for UPSI since it has to face many challenges and obstacles. With its strong will and commitment plus the support from the Ministry of Education, UPSI moved step by step to build its strength and now it managed to be at par with other more developed higher learning institutions.
The development of infrastructure started with the construction of the Chancellory Building in 1999 and the Students Residential Complex in Behrang Ulu. In early 2001, the development was more rapid with the construction of the Gymnasium, Library, Auditorium, Music Education Complex, lecture rooms and others. Some of the other infrastructures from the SITC-MPSI-IPSI era were renovated to suit the technological advancement but at the same time maintaining the original structures. The rapid development has upheld the image of UPSI as a premier higher learning institution.
The name of UPSI reflects the symbol of excellence because this is the only university that specialises in teacher training and education programmes of study in the first degree as well as post degree levels.
In its early establishment, there were only four faculties which offered ten programmes of study. The faculties were the Faculty of Languages, Faculty of Social Sciences and Art, Faculty of Science and Technology and Faculty of Cognitive Science and Humanities. The number of programmes increased from year to year. In 2002, two new faculties were established which were the Faculty of Business and Economics and Faculty of Information Technology and Communication, thus creating a total of six faculties with 19 courses of study at the first degree level. This increase reflects the major changes carried out to accommodate the academic needs and the increasing number of students. The Faculty of Social Sciences and Arts was then named Faculty of Arts and Music whereas the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities and Faculty of Sports Science were established. Currently, UPSI has eight faculties with 32 programmes of study.
Based on the students’ intake for the last twelve years (1997-2009), the percentage of intake is greater compared to the initial planning during the university’s establishment. Holders of STPM, Diploma or equivalent showed great interest and it is generally known that UPSI is the most popular IPTA amongst students. From a total of 338 students in 1997, currently (2009) the enrolment is more than 12,005 students, excluding 523 Diploma Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah (DPLI) and 1,357 post graduates students. The total of active students in the UPSI campus is 13,885.
Up to the 10th Convocation last August 2009 (1999-2007), UPSI has produced 17,873 first degree graduates and 979 post degree graduates (Doctoral and Master Degrees).