Numerous areas in the country have been hounded by the various challenges and limitations which resulted in lesser career and livelihood opportunities for its local communities. By investing in various research and development (R&D) programs especially in the rural areas could provide long-term solutions to the existing socioeconomic problems.
Before the launching of the Science for Change Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in 2016, 80% of the government R&D budget was concentrated in Metro Manila and adjacent regions leaving the remaining 20% to be shared by 14 other regions. To date, the share of the R&D budget for the regions increased to 66%, tipping the scale to boost R&D initiatives to address concerns in the countryside.
“We observed the disparity in R&D funding across regions with the lion’s share going to NCR and nearby provinces. MSMEs shy away from doing R&D for value adding and competitiveness due to the perception that R&D is a risky activity,” shared DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara.
Meanwhile, in one of his statements in the DOST Report episode aired in the DOSTv platform, DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña expressed his belief that the Philippines has tons of talented and well-equipped scientists, engineers, and researchers in various provinces of the country. According to him, most of them are motivated and inspired to find the appropriate solutions to several challenges and limitations that exist in their local areas.
“These local scientists and researchers know the root cause of all the problems of their communities. Most of them have decided to become engineers, medical doctors, and agriculturists, among others, just to have the opportunities to be part of the solutions.
He continued that they are willing to help; they just need a sustainable program that would allow them to maximize their knowledge, expertise, and experience for the benefit of the people in their areas.
These are the gaps that S4CP is addressing by offering sustainable infrastructure and mechanisms for different regions in the country to provide equal opportunities in achieving inclusive development through R&D.
Usec. Guevara shared that DOST’s master plan for S&T Human Resource Development has been receiving about 25% of DOST’s yearly budget. From producing less than
20 MS graduates in 2007, DOST produced 400 to 500 MS and Ph.D. graduates each year in the past six years.
“In the Philippine Development Plan 2017 to 2022, DOST target was to reach 300 researchers per million population in 2022. Four years ago, we already had 356 researchers per million Filipinos. These graduates are all over the country,” according to Usec. Guevara.
The S4CP enables an inclusive innovation ecosystem by creating R&D opportunities for stakeholders and key industry players which address societal problems that translate to community transformation and regional and national socio-economic development," underscored Usec. Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara.
In achieving all of these, there are four sub-components of S4CP that play vital roles, targeting specific sectors.
First is the Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D or NICER that capacitates Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) around the country to make significant improvements in regional research and help improve their S&T infrastructure.
Second is Collaborative R&D to Leverage the Philippine Economy or CRADLE, wherein it creates synergies between the academe and industry to invigorate Philippine R&D. It also helps the industry gain a competitive edge in the market through the development of innovative products, processes, and/or service in response to changing local and global dynamics.
The third is R&D Leadership or RDLead wherein it allows HEIs or R&D institutions to engage experts to help strengthen their research capabilities.
The fourth and last one is Business Innovation through S&T or BIST for Industry wherein it helps Filipino companies in acquiring strategic and relevant technologies for purposes of R&D to level-up innovation.
All of these are geared toward changing the R&D landscape in the country by making it more inclusive; strengthening the capabilities of our higher education institutes as well as supporting the industry sector to enhance the competitiveness of its local products and services.
"The S4CP brought about positive changes on the ground that our direct beneficiaries and our regional operations witnessed firsthand. And our partner SUCs or HEIs, RDIs, national, regional and local government institutions, private firms and industry associations share in this accomplishment of the United Nations Public Service Award," stated DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang.
On the other hand, Sec. de la Peña shared that he has seen personally the changes in science and technology as experienced by the different sectors, both from public and private institutions.
“As I conducted project visits to different regions, I heard testimonials of our beneficiaries reaping benefits from the science and technology interventions provided not only by the S4CP-funded projects but from all the DOST-led initiatives at the national and regional level. I am happy that the beneficiaries are recognizing the assistance of the S&T programs of DOST across the regions,” said Sec. de la Peña.
S4CP bags UN Public Service Award
Meanwhile, the DOST’s Science for Change Program was one of the ten awardees of the United Nations Public Service Awards 2022. Also, S4CP was one of the three awardees in the category of Enhancing the Effectiveness of Public Institutions to Reach Sustainable Development Goals.
The winners were announced on 22 June 22 through an online event.
The said program was recognized due to its outstanding achievement and for demonstrating excellence in serving the public interest by providing significant contribution to the improvement of public administration in the country.
UNPSA is considered as a prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service as it recognizes the creative achievements, efforts, and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide.
According to Usec. Guevara there were more than 350 entries from the 58 countries.
“It feels good to receive recognition and affirmation that Science for Change is Science for the People. DOST and the S4CP team share this award with the 43 NICERs, 86 CRADLEs, 68 RDLeaders, four BIST, and all those who contributed to the success of our program,” said Usec. Guevara.
Lastly, Sec. de la Peña believes that with the Science for Change Program, the DOST has expanded its public service and enhanced the effectiveness of public institutions nationwide by establishing R&D infrastructures, collaborative R&D, technology acquisition, and capacity building. (30) (By Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII)
The DOST-Science for Change Program won the 2022 United Nations Public Service Award under the category "Enhancing the Effectiveness of Public Institutions to Reach the SDGs". (Photo from Science for Change Program Facebook Page)