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Forty-three (43) scholar-graduates who recently finished their degrees with honors and placed high in their licensure exams were recognized by the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) during the celebration of the 2014 Southern Luzon Cluster Science and Technology Fair in Legaspi City, Albay. 

The ceremony was part of the “In Touch with Excellence” awarding program of SEI which it conducted in July. 

SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo, who led the awarding ceremony, congratulated the honorees for demonstrating excellence and passion for science. She said “the country needs more engineers, scientists, researchers, biologists, chemists, and other S & T manpower to drive economic development”.  

“We lag behind our neighboring countries in terms of S&T manpower, in the midst on the rapid increase in our human population,” said Biyo while also adding that DOST Scholars are concrete contributions towards achieving national development goals. 

The ceremony also paved the way for the announcement of availability of new scholarship slots under the Republic Act 10612 or also known as the “Expanded Scholarship Act of 2013” which aims to address the need for more science and math teachers in line with the implementation of the 6-year high school curriculum in the K to 12 Basic Education Program.  DOST and the Department of Education signed last August 4, 2014 the Act’s Implementing Rules and Regulations. 

To implement this law, SEI will be providing 500 scholarship slots, beginning the second term of 2014, to incoming third-year college students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. Biyo said another 1,000 new slots will be provided in 2015. Scholars under this program shall be required to teach for two to three years in high school after graduation. 

Biyo said additional 1,000 slots will be provided in 2015, making it  a total of 4,500 available slots for the undergraduate scholarship. 

Biyo also announced the expansion of SEI’s graduate scholarship program by increasing the number of consortium universities under the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program-Science Education Consortium (ASTHRDP-SEC) from four to ten universities. ? “This consortium among universities aims to establish common graduate programs in science and mathematics education (SME) and to accelerate the development of critical mass of SME in these areas,” added Biyo. 

Finally, she urged the honorees and the students present in the Cluster Fair to venture into S&T, whether in the industry, academe, or in the government. 

“While salaries in the country may not be as high as those in other countries, just remember the service that you will bring to the Filipino people.  Also consider the contribution that you can give to the country by producing quality researches and developing efficient technologies that would make the quality of life better,” remarked Biyo. 

“It is peoples’ lives transformed that will ultimately serve as indicator of how successful we are as science professionals,” she disclosed. (30)