Urgent Call to DOST for the Re-evaluation of ASTHRDP Policies and Operations

Urgent Call to DOST for the Re-evaluation of ASTHRDP Policies and Operations

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!
Lillian Jennifer Rodriguez started this petition to DOST

We call on our fellow S&T Faculty to support and sign this petition. This letter, along with the list of signatories, will be forwarded to DOST. Please clearly indicate your title, full name and affiliation (in the city field). Thank you!

STATEMENT  OF CONCERNED S&T FACULTY ON THE PLIGHT OF OUR DOST SCHOLARS


Science and Technology (S&T) are key pillars in the development of a nation, and the capacity for S&T production and innovation rests on building up a critical mass of qualified people in S&T. 


The Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was specifically crafted in order to 1) "help improve the country's global competitiveness and capability to innovate through alternative approaches on HRD in S&T"; and, 2) "accelerate the production of high-level human resources needed for S&T activities particularly in the area of R&D." These are admirable goals, and the program is indeed a significant part of developing a strong science and technology workforce for the country. 


The influx into the STEM fields is already relatively low compared to others; thus, programs like the ASTHRDP should provide a nurturing environment that promotes its scholars' growth and development by fully supporting them towards the completion of their graduate degrees.


In light of many concerns that the scholars have recently brought up, we, the faculty mentors and advisers, highly encourage the DOST-SEI to re-assess policies and operations that have hindered rather than nurtured the development of up and coming scientists and researchers of the country.


We want to voice out our concerns regarding the ASTHRDP. First, on behalf of all the DOST scholars, we would like to request for the reconsideration of the November 11, 2020 memo on the Financial Assistance under the Adjusted Academic Year 2020-2021. This year has been and continues to be an extremely difficult one, and many graduate students and scholars have had to continuously work through the months to adjust and catch up with their course and research workload.


It might be beneficial to take another look at this requirement to be enrolled to obtain a monthly stipend from a broader perspective. In reality, graduate studies and researches usually occur beyond the typical academic semesters.  Most scholarships in other countries provide for year-round support for their scholars as long as they are in the graduate program, hitting significant milestones and progressing in that time frame. This recognizes how graduate school is quite different from high school and undergraduate schedules. Progress and completion of graduate work are heavily reliant on independent research rather than merely passing courses or classes. 


Second, scholars have always raised concerns regarding the very delayed release of stipends every semester.  While the semester is ending, our new AY 2020-2021 ASTHRDP scholars have yet to receive their stipends. Within the current ASTHRDP contract, scholars have to give up work to study full-time and rely on the monthly stipends as their only source of financial support. How can our scholars support themselves if circumstances arise and they are not allowed to find work? Many of our scholars are being forced into debt and borrow money while waiting for three to four months for their stipends. This forced poverty strips our students of their dignity and pride in being scholars and scientists. Both DOST and the partner universities need to address the systemic administrative delays that have plagued this program for years.


Lastly,  we also raise concern over the application of M.Sc. rates to our first year of straight Ph.D. students. We strongly advocate for the application of contract-stipulated rates. The current ASTHRDP policy disenfranchises the straight Ph.D. scholars and will disincentivize potential students from applying to the straight Ph.D. programs.     


All these issues strongly point to the need to reevaluate and, if possible, innovate systems and policies that provide a conducive environment for the maturation of Filipinos skilled in scientific and technological fields. We hope that the DOST will be open to discussions with its scholars and the S&T workforce so that together, we can find means to improve on the management of these scholarship programs, which would be consistent with the spirit of what the program itself stands for. 

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!