Western Visayas has biggest graduate students in science, math education

By Paulo Julian

ILOILO CITY – A government-owned school in Western Visayas has the most teachers pursuing higher degrees in math and science among 10 universities in a nationwide consortium that provides scholarships in higher education.

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They are enrolled at the Western Visayas State University (WVSU), which has the largest enrollment of scholars under the National Consortium in Graduate Science and Mathematics Education, an initiative of the Science Education Institute (SEI) of the Department of Science and Technology.

WVSU, a state university, has consistently been in the Top 10 in licensure examinations for education, medicine and nursing. For the past consecutive years, its graduates were No. 1 in the nursing board.

WVSU has the biggest number of scholars among the consortium schools: 109 of them taking graduate courses, said Sheila Luna-Oliverio who oversees the program for SEI.

All are teachers from the provinces, taking mostly Masters courses in biology, math, and physics as well as PhDs in biology, math and science education. Luna-Oliverio said about half of the scholars are taking mathematics.

Over half of the WVSU faculty has Masters degrees while about a third has PhDs. This school year, the number of enrollees in Masteral courses is about the same as those in undergraduate courses. The biggest are in the College of Engineering.

One of the consortium scholars is Leo Mamolo who came all the way from Mahaplag, Leyte, to earn a PhD in mathematics. He is motivated, having graduated from the Visayas State University (VSU) at Baybay, Leyte, which does not offer Masteral and PhD degrees in math. He currently teaches math at the VSU Laboratory High School.

He receives a monthly stipend of P33,000, and a P5,000 book allowance. His father Celso is a copra farmer and mother Saturnina works full-time in the household. His eldest sibling has a degree in agricultural engineering from VSU, while another one has graduated from high school. Another is out of secondary school while Leo has earned a VSU degree to teach math.

Another scholar is Michelle Bales of the Iloilo National High School who balances family and school. “I sometimes feel guilty of not giving full time to my young son when I give full time to my students and studies,” she told DOST secretary Fortunato T. Dela Pena in a one-on-one with the scholars.

“We have to balance our time, sometime it feels like three times, one for family, one for school and one for my son,” said Bales, who is studying for a PhD in math.

Lucille Arcedas from Cabangcalan, Negros Occidental, also has a PhD scholarship in math. Oftentimes, she had to struggle with personal loss, for example when her mother died, and maintaining good grades. The emotional drain is too much, she said, but she had to plod on.

The consortium, under the SEI’s Accelerated Science and Techology Human Resource Development Program, includes the country’s top universities: WVSU, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, Central Luzon State University, Visayas State University, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology and the University of the Philippines campuses in Diliman, Los Baños, Manila and Iloilo.

They are the few institutions in the country that offer PhD degree programs in the basic and applied sciences and mathematics.

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