Communicating science is a challenge, and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) faces this challenge head on by putting into place programs that enrich the skills and knowledge of its communication staff.

DOST’s latest initiative  in this area is a scholarship program that will enhance the knowledge and skills of its science communicators, resulting in communication activities more relevant and attuned to today’s needs.

“Our work at the Department must be communicated to the public to earn greater support,” said Secretary Prof. Fortunato T. de La Peña to emphasize the importance of communication in the science department.

To put the program up and running, DOST and its partners inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the implementation of the Master of Science in Development Communication program for DOST communication staff.  Program partners who signed the MOA include  DOST’s Science Education Institute represented by Director Dr. Josette T. Biyo,  DOST’s Science and Technology Information Institute (STII)  Director Richard P. Burgos,  and University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) represented by Campus Chancellor Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr.

The ceremonial MOA signing was held October 6, 2016 at the DOST-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) building in Diliman, Quezon City. Witnesses include Dr. Ma. Theresa H. Velasco, dean of the UPLB College of Development Communication and Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., dean of the UPLB Graduate School.

To the incoming scholars, de la Peña advised, “Science communicators act as the bridge between scientists and the greater society they are a part of, so it is essential that they (scholars) uphold their responsibility as science communicators with utmost seriousness.”

The Master of Science in Development Communication program is intended to respond to the changing needs and views, particularly in science communication. It is designed to produce graduates who are able to: (1) compare and contrast theories, schools of thought, principles, and strategies of communication in the context of development; (2) analyze issues and challenges in development that may be addressed by education and training in development communication; (3) conduct research and evaluation in development communication; and (4) apply development communication concepts and skills in the design and management of systems, programs, and projects in development.

The program shall prepare its graduates to assume leadership roles in development communication.

The MS Development Communication as an off-campus program will be conducted in DOST in Bicutan, Taguig City every Saturday for four semesters.

“The offering of this scholarship program was intended to enhance the capacity of (DOST Media Core) members in the practice of their profession,” said Ruby R. Cristobal, president of the DOST Media Core which prepared the program’s concept paper.

Back in 2013, DOST through its Media Core, a network of DOST staff involved in communication work,  conducted a survey to assess the training and capability upgrading needs of communication practitioners in DOST and its agencies.  Results of the survey indicated among others the need for advanced studies in Development Communication.

DOST-STII’s division chief Dr. Aristotle P. Carandang, as Media Core adviser, recommended to the Media Core to propose to DOST an in-house scholarship program in Development Communication that would address the training and skills upgrading needs of the Media Core.

Following a consultation with Dr. Velasco, UPLB College of Development Communication dean, the DOST Media Core, through Cristobal, prepared a proposal for an off-campus MS Development Communication scholarship program under the DOST Human Resource Development Program managed by the DOST-SEI.

The 16 DOST scholars admitted into the program are (in alphabetical order): Charyl C. Apuyan (DOST-NAST), Melanie R. Aquino (DOST-PAGASA), Marren Joy J. Belgado (DOST-SEI), Jona M. Bernal (DOST-STII), Mary Charlotte O. Fresco (DOST-NRCP), Ullyann C. Garcia (DOST-PCHRD), Ana Ciaren H. Itulid (DOST-PCHRD), Jude M. Jose (DOST-PAGASA), Haziel May C. Natorilla (DOST-STII), Lucille Rose D. Sanico (DOST-PHIVOLCS), Ma. Grace B. Sasota (DOST-SEI), Salvador R. Serrano (DOST-FNRI), Juan Antonio R. Tuazon (DOST-SEI), George Robert E. Valencia III (DOST-NRCP), Ma. Estrella B. Valle (DOST-NRCP), and Charmaine V. Villamil (DOST-PHIVOLCS).

Dr. Mark Dondi M. Arboleda, UPLB Graduate School secretary, gave an orientation for the scholars after the MOA signing.

Other officials present at the MOA signing were Dr. Carol M. Yorobe, undersecretary for Regional Operations; Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, undersecretary for Scientific and Technological Services and OIC, Office the Undersecretary for Research and Development; Dr. Urdujah A. Tejada, assistant secretary and program manager for Countryside Development; Atty. Emmanuel S. Galvez, assistant secretary for Finance, Administrative and Legal Affairs, and UPLB administrators.

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