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Science and Technology-Driven Global Economy

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Ask the average Filipino student what his favorite subject is and chances are it won't be math, For a typical Japanese on Taiwanese student, the reverse wold be true math would be an all-time favorite subject in school and even in the choice of career. Typically , the culprits are the parents themselves - they probably had a difficult time with math and they convey their own fears and insecurities to their children. Is it any wonder then that the children believe they'll do poorly?

Hanging by the teeth
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TlMSS, formerly known as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study) resulted from the American education community's need for reliable and timely data on the mathematics and science achievement of its students compared to that of students in other countries. TIMSS is the most comprehensive and rigorous assessment of its kind ever undertaken. Offered in 1995, 1999, and 2003, it provides trend data on students'mathematics and science achievement from an international perspective.

In the '1995 study where 42 countries participated, the Philippines barely made it at 41st. In the 1999 study where 38 countries were measured, the Philippines ranked 36th lt edged out Morocco and South Africa, the only African countries that participated and the only countries with literacy rates measured at less than 50%. The top five places in mathematics, for instance, went to other Asian countries such as Singapore, Korea' Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.

Building a dream

The Philippines has set its sights on becoming a serious player in the technology-driven global economy. We take pride in our American-inspired educational system, our high literacy rate, our unique English-speaking skills, and a highly competitive information software and services workforce.

Every government administration has identified science and technology as the major instrument that will enable us to evolve from a third-world country based on agriculture to a first-world country that is highly industrialized and proficient in technology. To make this happen, the country needs a significant number of scientists, technical researchers, technologists, engineers, and perhaps even more importantly, more leaders to set science and technology policies, start up new technology ventures, and head companies that deploy these professionals.

Falling short
Unfortunately, although the Philippines has a high literacy rate at 95% and a population of over 80 million - making us the 13th highly populated country in the world - there aren't enough people graduating with science and technology degrees to create the critical MASS.

On percentage basis, we have more nursing, medicine, law, physical therapy, mass communications, architecture, hotel and restaurant administration, and merchant marine graduates than any other country in Asia. Science, engineering and technology unfortunately capture only 15% of you graduates in the Philippines.

TIMMS 1999 Math and Science Assessment Results

Mathematics
Nation Average
Singapore 604
Korea, Republic of  587
Chinese Taipei 585
Hong Kong SAR 582
Japan 579
Belgiume - Flemish 558
Netherlands 541
slovak republic 534
Hungary 532
Canada 531
Slovenia 530
Russian federation 526
Australia 525
Finland 520
Czech Republic 520
Malaysia 519
Bulgaria 511
Latvia - LSS 505
United states 502
England 496
New Zealand 491
Lithuania 482
Italy 479
Cyprus 476
Romania 472
Noldova 469
Thailand 467
Israel 466
Tunisia 448
Macedonia, Republic of 447
Turkey 429
Jordan 428
Iran, Islamic Republic of 422
Indonesia 403
Chile 392
Philippines 345
Morocco 337
South Africa 275
Science
 Nation Average
Chinese Taipei 569
Singgapore 568
Hungary 552
Japan 550
Korea, Republic of 549
Netherlands 545
Australia 540
Czech Republic 549
England 538
Finland 535
Slovak Republic 535
Belgium Flemish 535
Slovenia 533
Canada 533
Hong Kong SAR 530
Russian Federation 529
Bulgaria 518
United States 515
New Zealand 510
Latvia - LSS 503
Italy 493
Malaysia 492
Lithuania 488
Thailand 482
Romania 472
Istrael 468
Cyprus 460
Moldova 459
Macedonia, Rep.of 458
Jordan 450
Iran, Islamic Rep. of 448
Indonesia 435
Turkey 433
Tunisia 430
Chile 420
Phlippines 345
Morocco 323
South Africa 243
Average is Significantly higher than the U.S average
Average does not differ significantly from the U.S average
Average is significantly lower than the U.S average

On a contrasting note, Russia has twice the population of the Philippines but graduates 10 times as many science and technology students. South Korea has only 45 million people yet graduates three times as many. Taiwan has only 21 rnillion but graduates twice our number. lndia has 13 times our population with only a 50% literacy rate and almost half our per capita GDP but it graduates 50 times as many scientists, engineers and technologists.

The government's responsibility

Smart people with strong technical backgrounds and inclinations who can help steer the nation to scientific and technological advancement are not "born" but are
"made." A world-class educational system that taps the fullest potential of the country's brightest youth - especially in mathematics, science and technology - is deemed to be a critical foundation plece. Since nearly 95% of the country's elementary and secondary youth population come from our public school system, the burden falls on the government and the education department to create the curricula, hire and train teachers, and provide the support facilities that will provide the strong mathematical and technical base.