MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is urging students to take up meteorology to increase the number of competent weather personnel in the country.
CHED chairperson Patricia Licuanan said in a text message to The STAR that the commission considers meteorology a priority area.
The CHED supported the development of the first BS Meteorology course by several state universities and colleges (SUCs) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astro-nomical Services Admi-nistration (PAGASA).
“We would encourage students to enter this field. There obviously are jobs,” Licuanan said.
The official issued the call following reports that the agency faces “brain drain” with veteran weather forecasters allegedly leaving PAGASA for jobs abroad.
She said the government has identified meteorology as a priority area given the susceptibility of the Philippines to destructive meteorological phenomena such as typhoons, monsoon rains and other weather changes.
The country is visited by an average of 19 to 20 tropical cyclones every year.
Licuanan said the commission was one of the proponents of the Project COMET or the Consortium for Meteorology Education and Training, which was launched last year.
Aside from CHED, other proponents of the Project COMET include PAGASA, Department of Science and Technology, AGHAM party-list and five SUCs in Luzon and Visayas.
The Rizal Technological University, Mariano Marcos State University, Central Luzon State University, Bicol University and Visayas University started offering the Bachelor of Science in Meteorology program last school year.
Prior to the implementation of Project COMET, only the University of the Philippines-Diliman was offering a meteorology program.
The DOST’s Science Education Institute has also offered scholarships to 16 BS Meteorology students under the Junior Level Scholarship Program.
Four are from the Bicol University, seven from Central Luzon State University, two from Mariano Marcos State University and three from Visayas State University. They were selected from the junior engineering batch with high aptitude in mathematics and the physical sciences to successfully pursue BS Meteorology.
Applicants for the scholarships must be incoming third year college students and have a grade of 83 percent or higher in mathematics, science and English subjects.
The head of PAGASA, Nathaniel Servando, is on indefinite leave.
Science Secretary Mario Montejo said Servando asked for a two-month extension of his leave to give him more time to decide whether or not to resign.
Servando reportedly accepted a teaching job in the Middle East.
Earlier, Rene Rollon, director of the UP Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (IESM), said there is no shortage of meteorologists in the country.
“You don’t need to have a degree in meteorology to work in PAGASA,” Rollon said.
He said most weathermen in the agency have undergraduate degrees in other fields such as engineering or scientific courses.
CHED data showed that there are currently 12 students taking Master of Science in Meteorology at UP-Diliman.
According to PAGASA, the requirements for weather specialists include a bachelor’s degree in engineering, natural sciences or a degree with six units of physics and mathematics up to integrated calculus.
Applicants are also required to have a meteorological training course, which is offered by PAGASA, or at least 900 hours of training in a related discipline.