MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Thursday the government should tap more students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and develop them as future technology specialists who could fill in the country’s shortage of cyber security experts.
Gatchalian made the call following reports of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary John Ivan Uy that there were only 200 certified cybersecurity experts in the country today compared to Singapore’s 3,000 despite the Philippines’ vulnerability to cybercrimes.
Although DICT has been offering short-course training programs on cybersecurity and software engineering, Gatchalian underscored the need to develop talents as early as during basic education.
“Even in our basic education system, where we could potentially cultivate the talent going into cybersecurity, it’s virtually non-existent,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
Gatchalian also stressed the need to increase enrollment in the STEM strand of senior high schools where potential cybersecurity talents can be developed.
He said there were only 612,857 senior high school students enrolled under the STEM strand, or equivalent to only 16 percent of senior high school enrollment.
“When it comes to coding, for example, I think it should be introduced as early as junior high school level so that students will be exposed and by the time they reach senior high school, they can actually do more complex tasks related to information technology. When they move to college, they can already specialize in various fields,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 476 or the Equitable Access to Math and Science Education Act, which seeks to build a math and science high school in the country’s provinces.
Early this year, cybersecurity company Kaspersky Security Network reported that for 2021, more than 50 million web threat attempts were foiled in the Philippines, making the country the fourth most targeted by cybercriminals.
The same report revealed cyberthreats detected in the Philippines rose sharply by 433 percent from 2017 to 2021. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)