By Hannah Torregoza
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Sunday expressed his support to the government’s move to fund the studies of 44,475 science scholars next year.
The funds for their scholarship, which amounts to P7.4-billion, is lodged with the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) budget, which Recto said will also cover 1,927 scholars in Ph.D. and 4,264 in Masters programs.
The DOST scholarships are separate from other government tertiary education financing programs bundled under the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, also known as the free college law.
“Marami na tayong political scientists, pero kakaunti ang nasa (We already have so many political scientists, but we lack those in) data science. May surplus na ng (We already have a surplus of) government administrators, pero ICT systems administrators kulang tayo (but we lack ICT systems administrators),” Recto noted.
Recto noted that many of the country’s problems can be addressed by science-based solutions. Thus, the number of government Ph.D. scholars was “six times the membership of the House of Representatives and 80 times that of the Senate, and no doubt are more important for the country’s future.”
Thus, he said the P7.4-billion, which will cover the cost of the tuition, books, travel, living and other allowances of these scholars, including the operations of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) and the Science Education Institute (SEI), should not be considered “an expense but an investment with high returns to society.”
“This is so because we can only ‘science our way to the future.’ The problems we confront today, from health to agriculture, to traffic, can only have science-based solutions,” Recto said.
“We have to train the knowledge workers who will fix these, and the ones that would come after, including existential challenges, like climate change,” he stressed.
The scholars are dispersed over many courses under the STEM—science, technology, engineering, mathematics—umbrella.
Joining the 6,191 doctorate and master’s students are 28,900 undergraduate students and the 9,384 students in the 16 campuses of the PSHS System.
“So this program covers high school education to the highest degree available,” Recto said.
The DOST scholarship programs are run by two agencies: the SEI, which handles all college and graduate programs, with a proposed 2020 budget of P4.74-billion, and the PSHS, which is being earmarked P2.6-billion