DOST eyes local S&T experts to be more directly involved in policy and decision making

Posted on 06/14/2022 09:25 am
DOST eyes local S&T experts to be more directly involved in policy and decision making image

On the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, we quickly realized that having enough local experts in various fields related to science, technology, and innovation or STI is a big help to address pressing problems and issues. 

After the challenge of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to double the human resources amidst the country’s fight against the pandemic, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is now hiring more researchers, scientists, and engineers to help government and industry craft and create and implement more science-based decisions and policies. 

“COVID-19 showed to us that we really need S&T fellows but even before the advent of the global health pandemic, the leaders of our nation are already using STI (science, technology, and innovation) as inputs to decision-making,” said by DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara. 

However, recognizing the possible risks facing humanity in the coming years, the DOST deemed it necessary to put in place some strategic mechanisms that would ensure stable and sustainable supply of local researchers, scientists, and engineers in the country. 

Usec. Guevara shared that in the context when the DOST S&T Fellows program was proposed and came into fruition. She explained that it aims to populate the research and development (R&D) group of DOST with masters and PhD degree holders with limited tenure of five years. 

“It is now almost a year since the idea of supplementing the workforce of DOST agencies with MS and Ph.D. graduates from different S&T specializations came into fruition. And to celebrate this milestone, we are having our first S&T Fellows Convention,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña. 

The Secretary said that DOST is confident that more than the compensation that we offer, it is in the heart of our scientists to share their knowledge and expertise in service to the country and the Filipino people. 

Meanwhile, this initiative is not new in countries that aim for technological advancement and leadership, according to Usec. Guevara. She cited the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC as they also launched their own S&T Policy Fellowships or STPF program. Under this, outstanding scientists and engineers are given opportunities to learn firsthand about policy making and enable them to contribute their knowledge and analytical skills in crafting this. 

The STPF program allowed RSEs or researchers, scientists, and engineers to work for the US government for a one-year tenure; such efforts are likewise being adopted by the National Science and Technology Development Agency or NASDA of Thailand.

Currently, the DOST, through its Science Education Institute, has been supporting around 51, 000 scholars from across all scholarship programs, undergraduate and graduate levels. Meanwhile, the science department has 4,308 scholars for graduate studies while 1,550 for the Ph.D. level.

Usec. Guevara said that DOST is hoping to capture these scholars in the search for S&T Fellows as well as brilliant S&T talents from across the globe.

Currently, there are a total of 32 S&T Fellows whose services are engaged by the different DOST agencies. There are 17 out of the 32 S&T Fellows who have been reporting to the DOST R&D institutes which include Advanced Science and Technology Institute, Food Nutrition Research Institute, Forest Products Research and Development Institute, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, Philippine Textile Research Institute to undertake R&D in various areas of specialization. 

The remaining S&T Fellows have been reporting to the DOST councils such as Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development; Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development; and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. These S&T Fellows direct specific agenda that includes conceptualization of R&D program, policy development, and impact assessment of DOST programs and projects, among others. 

Overall, the S&T fellows program provides opportunities to our researchers, scientists, and engineers to do meaningful work in the country while enjoying competitive compensation.

There are remaining 11 S&T Fellows who will start their stint in June or July this year.

Usec. Guevara revealed that when it comes to compensation, S&T Fellows 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 have salary grades of 23, 24, 25,26, and 27, respectively. 

“The work that you (S&T Fellows) do is more than just R&D outputs and outcomes, you may not realize but when you are allowing long hours to conceptualizing road maps inside your laboratories, testing samples, and making experiments, believe me your work will benefit hundreds and millions of Filipino,” said Usec. Guevara. 

The 1st S&T Fellows Convention was held on 30 May 2022 at the Crimson Hotel in Muntinlupa City. It was organized by the DOST, through the Office of the Undersecretary for Research and Development. In this event, several S&T fellows assigned in different DOST agencies shared their experience in working with the science department and the R&D projects that they are now working on. (30) (By Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII, S&T Media Service)

Dr. Varsolo Sunio, an S&T Fellow assigned in DOST-PCIEERD, shared his R&D projects on transforming road-based public transport through service contracts during the 1st S&T Fellows Convention held on 30 May 2022 at the Crimson Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. 

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña shares that he is confident that S&T Fellows assigned in their various offices would make a huge impact in boosting the capacity of various R&D institutions of DOST. 

DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara explains that the Department’s S&T Fellows Program provides opportunities to our researchers, scientists, and engineers to do meaningful work in the country while enjoying competitive compensation.