Few enrolling in math, science courses critical to nat’l development — CHEdBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — While college students continue to flock to courses perceived to lead to in-demand jobs, only a few dare sign up for courses that government deems critical for development, including disciplines in the sciences, mathematics, agriculture and forestry.
Such trend could spell trouble for the country’s development, with the Philippines facing a dearth in qualified professionals in critical fields, said CHEd Chair Patricia Licuanan.
“With science and technology courses seriously under-subscribed, the human resources needed for research and development will not be available. This will have a negative impact on national development and global competitiveness,” Licuanan said.
“There is the need to produce the high level professionals to do this — researchers and scientists who can generate intellectual products, like new concepts or products, processes or inventions as well as innovators and entrepreneurs who can transform such intellectual outputs or inventions into commercially successful products and services,” she added.
She cited the importance of fresh science and technology minds — scientists, geologists, agriculturists — to fuel research, development and innovations. She also underlined the role of universities in molding such talent.
“Universities, as centers of learning, are crucial in providing the nation with a steady supply of scientists and researchers. They also function as research laboratories and generate as well as transmit knowledge and technology and are thus major agents of economic growth,” Licuanan said.
Data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) showed that college students still preferred to enroll in courses already considered “oversubscribed,” including teacher education, business administration, information technology, maritime studies and hotel and restaurant management.
This even as government has a standing moratorium on the opening of new programs in these disciplines in efforts to encourage students to enroll in less favored courses, particularly those that has seen poor enrollment over the years.
CHEd figures showed that courses in natural science disciplines have a total enrollment of around 25,500 this school year, a slight improvement from 2005 where 22,900 signed up.
Under this discipline is geology, a critical course that could help produce new professionals in earth studies and even disaster management.
Math majors are among the smallest groups of students, with total enrollment this school year of 13,400, up from 10,701 seven years ago.
Enrollment is, meanwhile, declining in courses vital in the future of the country’s food security, including Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Veterinary Medicine.
All four courses together have an enrollment of 61,901 this year, a dip from 63,913 in school year 2005-2006.
On the other hand, courses already oversubscribed continued to post six-digit enrollment, increasing year on year.
Teacher education has some 383,849, up from 361, 774 in 2005. Business administration and related courses has 857,562, increasing by more than 300,000 from the same year.
Enrollment in information technology courses nearly doubled in the last seven years: this year’s total enrollment is at 425,679, nearly twice the 2005 figure of 242,799.
Maritime studies, a feeder course for the international seafaring population, has an enrollment this year of 105,935, up from 74,000 seven years ago.
Such trend continues even while CHEd has a standing moratorium preventing schools from opening new programs under these disciplines (only existing programs are allowed to continue).
Licuanan said the government has been hoping to encourage students to enroll in under-subscribed courses by working with the private sector to offer more scholarships in priority courses, among them those in the sciences, agriculture and math.
Tags: Agriculture , Careers , colleges , Commission on Higher Education , Education , Employment , Forestry , human resource development , human resources , Jobs , Mathematics , News , Professionals , Professions , science , Universities