IN a bid to beef up the Philippines’s pool of science and technology (S&T) teachers, a total of 500 third-year college students passed the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute’s (DOST-SEI) Junior Level Science Scholarship (JLSS) exam administered nationwide on October 18.
They qualified for the two- to three-year S&T scholarships to become future S&T educators.
The JLSS is a scholarship program of the DOST-SEI under Republic Act (RA) 10612, or “An Act Expanding the Coverage of the Science and Technology Scholarship Program and Strengthening the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in Secondary Schools.” Otherwise known as the “Fast-Tracked S&T Scholarship Act of 2013,” the law builds on the current S&T scholarships offered by the DOST-SEI as provided for in RA 7687, or the Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994.
The implementation of RA 10612 supports the execution of Section 8 of the K-to-12 law, which urges the hiring of teachers from among the graduates of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.
“By fast-tracking graduates in STEM courses, RA 10612 aims to strengthen the country’s S&T education, and hopes to inspire our scholar-graduates toward a career path in science teaching,” said Dr. Josette Biyo, SEI director.
Qualifiers in the scholarship program will receive privileges provided under RA 7687 to scholars. They will be entitled to subsidy for tuition and other school fees; monthly living allowance for 10 to 11 months; book allowance; and more during the last two or three years of their undergraduate studies.
The scholarship program under RA 10612 would not only answer the shortage of STEM teachers in the country, but also provide more competent teachers to handle the K to 12 basic-education curriculum.
Upon graduation, the scholars are required to serve as STEM teachers for a minimum of two years in any public or private high school in the country, preferably in their hometown.
They will also be given teacher training by the Philippine Normal University (PNU).
To ensure that graduates under the program would be able to serve, the Department of Education (DepEd) will assist in the job placement and hiring of qualified graduates with a starting salary equivalent to that of the Special Science Teacher 1 position at the Philippine Science High School.
Other incentives include relocation allowance if they would be assigned outside their home region or province; and initial noneligibility for Licensure Examination for Teachers provided they take and pass the exam within five years of hiring.
Biyo believes that this strategy will not only help produce quality teachers right away but will also ensure dynamic and effective science and mathematics teaching in many schools in the country.
Meanwhile, Science Undersecretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said that hiring of experts in these fields would aid in the promotion of research, innovation and utilization of studies related to S&T in the country.
“To stay competitive, we need a competent S&T work force, such as engineers, and people with Master’s and PhD degrees in advanced S&T fields. Thus, we need more S&T teachers to inspire more children to take science and engineering courses. I truly believe this program would be the way to do that,” de la Peña said.
Initial implementation of the JLSS Program will take effect in the second semester of school year 2014-2015.