A total of 42,987 hopefuls will troop to different testing centers in the country to try and clinch a slot for the 2015 Undergraduate Scholarship slots offered by the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI). This year’s number reach an all time high and maintained the increasing trend in the number of applicants in the past years as it exceeded the 35,562 and 27,224 recorded for the 2014 and 2013 exams, respectively. DOST-SEI credits this trend to the increased awareness to the value and benefits of venturing into scientific careers. 

The national qualifying examination for DOST-SEI’s two undergraduate scholarship programs, namely, the Republic Act 7687 or the Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994, and the Merit Scholarship Program will be administered on 21 September 2014. 

SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo said the massive promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses through their many programs and projects helped increase the number of applicants to the Scholarship Program. 

She specified their campaign “Push4Science: Maging DOST Scholar Ka!” as one project that helped promote the program to students from remote areas in the country. 

“We wanted to reach the municipalities that had no applicants for so many years because we want them to produce their own scholars and later on scientists and engineers,” said Biyo. 

Biyo also applauded the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for enumerating priority fields for students to consider in college as well as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for identifying of S&T careers as some of the highest paying jobs in the country. 

“CHED identified priority courses that college students should take as they are not only high-demand but are also high-impact for our industries,” said Biyo. “On the other hand, DOLE’s list of 10 highest-paying jobs in the country included six S&T professions such as geology, flight engineering, mining engineering, computer programming, systems analysis, and statistics.” 

Earlier this March, CHED listed agriculture, engineering, science and math, information technology, teacher education, and health sciences as among the in-demand and priority courses for the academic year 2014-2015 through 2017-2018. Biyo remarked that most of these are science-related. 

Meanwhile, DOLE’s list of the top 10 highest-paying jobs in the country released earlier this year included six S&T professions such as geology, flight engineering, mining engineering, computer programming, systems analysis, and statistics. 

Biyo said the various programs of the DOST in the past years improved the appreciation of the general population on the value of S&T and hence helped encouraged young students to apply to the Scholarship Program. 

The DOST Scholarship Program aims to help produce a critical mass of scientists and engineers as a way to meet the S&T demands of the current era. The Philippines remains short of science professionals. 

“Since 1980, we only have 147 conferred career scientists through the Civil Service Commission’s Scientific Career System and less than half of that number remains active in the field. This is way below the ideal number to serve more than 100 million Filipinos,” said Biyo. 

She expressed hope that the would-be passers of the qualifying test will ultimately venture into S&T careers, especially those from less-developed areas in the country. 

“We hope that applicants from the remote areas of the country will qualify so that they can get a chance to hone a home-grown scientist or engineer who can help them advance using S&T,” disclosed Biyo. (30)