MANILA, Philippines – Where have all our scientists and engineers gone?
A bill filed in the Senate seeks to address this problem by boosting the teaching of science, math, and engineering in the country by providing scholarships and incentives to teachers.
Senator Edgardo Angara filed Senate Bill no. 3279, “An Act Strengthening the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in Secondary Schools by Science, Mathematics and Engineering Graduates, Providing for Scholarships and Incentives Therefor and for Other Purposes” that proposes scholarships and an upgrade of science teachers’ salaries.
The bill cites that the “Philippines only has 157 scientists and engineers per million population.”
The bill is expected to improve the country’s science and technology manpower in pursuit of economic development and increase in the capabilities of research, development, and innovation.
“Through this piece of legislation, we can ensure that the government prioritizes research and development, invention and innovation–with the end goal of increasing the competitiveness of our workforce. This is a much-needed step towards our nation’s growth,” Angara said in a statement released Monday.
According to the bill, those who graduate under the scholarship program will be granted a starting salary grade equivalent to Special Science Teacher I in the Philippine Science High School system.
They will also be required to “teach full-time in the subject(s) Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics; or Information Technology or Agricultural, Aquaculture or Fisheries Technology, both in the university and technical-vocational tracks in the secondary education curriculum, for a minimum of two years in a public or private high school.”
“We aim to build on our talent pool of good math and science teachers in the secondary level in anticipation of the full roll-out of K to 12,” Angara said.
He also said that close to 100,000 teachers are needed throughout the country, based on figures from the Department of Education. “With this bill, we seek to help fill in this gap as quickly as possible,” Angara added.
The bill also proposes the hiring of unemployed or retired science professionals as high school teachers.
“Philippines is still lacking in competent Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics professionals and teachers. Many studies correlate the quality of teachers and of teaching to student achievements in science and subsequently to their choice to build science careers,” Angara said in the explanatory of the bill.