Press Release
January 20, 2008

Make STI a National Priority - Angara

"Science, technology and innovation (STI) must become a national priority for economic growth," Senator Edgardo J. Angara said in the 6th JVO lecture he delivered on January 16, 2008. Harnessing the enormous potentials of STI has been done in other countries and the Philippines can learn from them, Angara said.

"Throughout the years, India has continuously pursued science and technology (S&T) strategies that successfully moved them from poverty to being now the world's eleventh richest country", Angara said. India's annual GDP amounts to US$430 billion.

For most of India's economic history, from the isolation and import-substitution phase, of the 1960's to the economic liberalization of the 1980's one thing remained almost constant: S&T has been a national priority.

Among its strategies to promote S&T are investments in basic and heavy technologies; creation of R&D promotion policies, and integration of S&T planning to the over-all planning process of government; technology transfers; and strengthened linkages between industry, R&D institutions and financial institutions.

Thailand, considered our closest competitor, has already moved ahead of the Philippines in pushing for a knowledge-based economy, Angara said.[i] Thailand's National Science and Technology Strategic Plan in 2004 aims to achieve economic development by producing human resources skilled in science and technology as well as strengthening its institutions and infrastructures to stimulate and promote STI.

Since then, Thailand's indicators have been rising steadily. Its R&D expenditure has risen significantly, from 0.12 of GDP in 1996, to 0.5 of GDP in 2006. Patent applications are growing by 276% from .02 per 100,000 population in 1996 to .07 per 100,000 population in 2004.

Singapore is another country that made policies focused on strengthening STI.

"Singapore's STI policy centered on increasing its technically-trained human resources by having their education system biased towards S&T", Angara said. "They even have 62% of their university students enrolled in S&T courses," Angara added.

"The lesson that the Philippines can draw from Singapore is its strong intent to provide massive investment and priority in education", Angara said.

Investing in education helped encourage 6, 000 transnational companies already investing in Singapore to engage in R&D, thereby producing high-value added products and services.

"We could learn from a review and analysis of STI experiences in these countries and stratetgically adapt and apply these to our own," Angara said.

Angara is a former President of the University of the Philippines (UP) and, as a Senator, authored many of the country's education reform laws including the Free High School Act, CHED, TESDA, GASTPE.

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