Leading STEM education institutions unite to build a #smarterPH
Updated: Jul 2, 2022
What jobs are in store for the Filipino youth? Is our education system sufficiently preparing them for those jobs? Research show that 65 percent of today's students will be employed in jobs that don't exist yet, and 60 percent of the new jobs created in this century will require skills in STEM-related fields. In the Philippines, the problem is more urgent.
What jobs are in store for the Filipino youth? Is our education system sufficiently preparing them for those jobs?
According to the research cited by the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of today's students will be employed in jobs that don't exist yet, and 60 percent of the new jobs created in this century will require skills in STEM-related fields.
In the Philippines, the problem is more urgent.
Who will build our future?
Speaking at “Launchpad to the STEM Collaborative,” last June 28, 2018, DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Lorna Dig-Dino provided an overview of the current status of innovation and STEM education in the country, including DepEd enrolment and curriculum for STEM track. She stressed the vital role that current and future STEM people will continue to play in realizing the current administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, which consists of 75 ambitious flagship projects over the next decade.
However, according to Dig-Dino, “We have 26,629,845 learners. In terms of the future pool of manpower in the country, we have a substantial amount compared to developed countries in Asia. Of these, only 921,000 are in senior high school, and only 226,688 in the STEM track.”
Compounding the students’ lack of interest in STEM is the fact that teachers are also ill-prepared to teach the relevant subjects. Speaking at the same event, Dean Marie Therese Bustos of the UP College of Education presented research showing that an increasing percentage of students are not ready for the demands of the Chemistry competencies at their current grade level. Contributing factors include curriculum implementation, teacher specialization and training, instruction and school resources.
Citing the 2017 study, RCTQ Study: Teacher Development Needs Study, Bustos’ presentation stated, “A large proportion of DepEd Teachers are poorly prepared to deliver the K to 12 curriculum in Filipino, English, Mathematics, and Science in Grades 6, 8 and 10. In the case of science at all three grade levels, the majority of teachers failed to demonstrate an adequate level of knowledge of the subject.”
Bustos admitted, “The future looks bleak if we focus on the data alone. But I am hopeful because we are into things like this – a STEM collaborative.”
Improving the quality of STEM education in the Philippines
Philippine Science High School (PISAY) Executive Director Lilia Habacon shared that STEM Education facilitates the development of 21st century skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. These skills are recognized as a requirement for students of today to succeed at work and in life.
DepEd, the UP College of Education, PISAY are consolidating efforts in their commitment to improve the quality of STEM education in the Philippines.
The three institutions convened through STEM.ph, Unilab Foundation’s (ULF) program that aims to strengthen STEM education in the country. At “Launchpad to the STEM Collaborative,” DepEd, PISAY, and UP College of Education presented their shared plans to address the needs of teachers and learners when it comes to STEM.
The most critical of plans is the establishment of a STEM Education Center. This would be the first of its kind in the country, aimed at enhancing Filipino educators' skills on teaching and expertise on STEM.
“This facility will ensure continuous training and improvement of our educators, and development of relevant materials through vigorous research. If we want to nurture our learners, if we want to have more quality STEM schools, we must first equip our educators,” said Lilibeth Aristorenas, Executive Director of ULF.
Plans for the STEM Education Center were well-received by those present at the event, which included leaders and representatives of government agencies, international NGOs, private institutions, and science professionals and enthusiasts present. Many expressed their willingness to support the Center, in the name of nurturing future STEM-equipped generations.
Building a #smarterPH
Last April, 11 representatives from the three institutions embarked on a Global Benchmarking Tour in Massachusetts, USA, organized by ULF. The tour included an intensive five-day training program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and visits at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and science high schools in the area.
The plans for the STEM Education Center are among the outcomes of the tour. The delegates called on those present at the event to join and contribute to this endeavor.
“The 11 of us who attended the benchmarking tour cannot do this alone. We need authentic problems from the community and the industry. We need more local STEM experts working closer to the grassroots so students feel that there really is STEM education,” shared Sheryl Lyn Monterola, Associate Professor at the UP College of Education, and tour delegate.
Aristorenas seconded Monterola’s call for collaboration. “Together let’s build a society with high regard for science and innovation, where we will have enough scientists and engineers who will help improve the quality of life of our countrymen. Together let’s build a better and smarter Philippines!”
Unilab Foundation (ULF), is the philanthropic arm of Unilab. As the corporate foundation of a company founded on science and innovation, we foster a culture of innovation to address gaps in health, education, and opportunity. For more information on ULF visit www.unilabfoundation.org.
 World Economic Forum, “The Future of Jobs.” http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/chapter-1-the-future-of-jobs-and-skills/#view/fn-1
 National Math + Science Initiative, “Why STEM Education Matters.” https://www.nms.org/portals/0/docs/why%20stem%20education%20matters.pdf
 Progress of students through the science curriculum: A focus on matter (chemistry) by the Assessment, Curriculum and Training Research Center