The other day, President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos underlined his commitment to address the gap in research and development in science and technology.
The 64-year-old incoming chief executive has acknowledged that the Philippines, a country of 110 million plus, is lagging in STEM education and has much to do to go at full throttle.
But what is STEM education? This (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teaches students how to solve problems by using their critical thinking skills. By engaging in STEM, students learn how to examine problems and then create a plan to solve them.
Verily, the rapid development of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and research since the beginning of this century has benefited from strong, ongoing support from many different entities, including government agencies, professional organizations, industries, and education institutions.
We find the presidential push timely and right on track, with the President-elect vowing to start at the primary and secondary levels as he said he would task the Department of Education, under the leadership of Vice President-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio, to address the STEM issue.
In a video on his official Facebook page, the President-elect bemoaned that Filipinos, under the educational system, do not do well when it comes to mathematics and the sciences as compared to other countries.
Reason, he said, why the new administration, particularly the DepEd, will have among its focus an emphasis on STEM from which children can derive skills. .
STEM-based education teaches children more than science and mathematics concepts. The focus on hands-on learning with real-world applications helps develop manifold skill sets, including creativity and 21st-century skills.
These skills include media and technology literacy, productivity, social skills, communication, flexibility and initiative.
Other skills attained through STEM education include problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, decision making, leadership, entrepreneurship, acceptance of failure and more.
We agree with education experts that regardless of the future career path considered by these children, these skill sets go a long way to preparing them to be innovative.
It is an axiom that the ability to think critically and challenge standards is the basis of innovation.
According to the Providence, Rhode Island-based Equality of Opportunity Project, innovation is a critical component of economic growth, acknowledging that innovative thinkers are the movers and shakers that have the potential to change the world.
The president-elect has stressed that the country must adapt to current developments since the Philippine economy is “very largely technical-based, based on science and technical innovations.”
His words: “We need the talent. That is one of the major areas that our DepEd is going to be looking at, and how to strengthen the instruction for our children and our students.”
His analysis underscores his lament six years ago how the Philippines “has only around 80 scientists per million of the population when other countries have some 4,000 per million.”
His proposal to create science high schools in major provinces and cities – the country only has 15 science high schools – should be a defining feature for the “Filipino dream.”