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02 February 2018

Helping Marawi rebuild. DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña leads in the signing of the memorandum of agreement with MSU System President, Dr. Habib W. Macaayong (second to right), and MSU-IIT Chancellor, Dr. Sukarno D. Tanggo (leftmost), for the implementation of the DOST Bangon Marawi Program in Science and Technology Human Resource Development, which will provide scholarships to students enrolled in STEM courses who were affected by the Marawi siege. The ceremony was held last January 26 in Iligan City.

When Nestor Acala decided to head back home to Marawi after completing his Doctorate in Mathematics as a scholar of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), he was full of hope for his would-be students at the Mindanao State University (MSU) – Marawi Campus.

However, the siege that began in May of 2017 and lasted five months left severe damages that have taken aback thousands of lives in the area. Acala and his students, for one, had to put their respective growths on hold at the onset of the war. What was supposed to be a time for moving up turned into chaos in an instant.

The war is over and the rebuilding begins for Acala and his people.  Thankfully, the government’s Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Recovery, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Program is going full swing to help rehabilitate infrastructures and restore peace and order in the city. In support of this national program, DOST through the Science Education Institute (SEI) is initiating DOST Bangon Marawi Program in Science and Technology Human Resource Development (STHRD) as an educational assistance strategy for students affected by the conflict.

Seen as a “long-term and sustainable solution” to uplift the lives of Marawi residents, the specialized program seeks to assist displaced students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses at MSU Marawi as well as open opportunities for local S&T professionals to pursue advance degrees.

“With the heightened need to help rebuild Marawi and the greater Mindanao area, we shall provide opportunities for our children to continue their tertiary studies in STEM and achieve a future that is far removed from the effects of the war,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña before officials and students of MSU Marawi and Iligan campuses during the program launch held last 26 January.

He said the project is designed to help restore and rehabilitate the city’s human and social infrastructures, especially in the S&T sector.

The DOST Bangon Marawi Program in STHRD has two scholarship components, namely, Sagip Mag-aaral, which is meant for third, fourth, or fifth year students enrolled in STEM courses at MSU Marawi; and Graduate Scholarships, which shall offer full-time and part-time programs for Master’s and Doctorate studies. The Program assigns 225 slots for the undergraduate courses and 30—20 for MS and 10 Ph.D.—for graduate degrees.

SEI Director, Dr. Josette Biyo, said the slots would follow the same list of priority degrees for its regular undergraduate scholarship programs as well as the same financial benefits.

“We feel that helping students get back to the university to pursue the dreams they had before the war will provide a more lasting impact to their lives and to the whole city—much like what Nestor had experienced when he was our scholar from his bachelor’s to his doctorate degrees,” Biyo said.

Other key components of the DOST-SEI’s initiative include the implementation of the Patriot Project, which, according to Biyo is, designed to “inculcate a deeper love for the country among the scholars,” and the S&T Learning Assistance Program (STLAP) that focuses on capability development trainings and establishment of a Learning Resource Center at MSU Marawi.

“This is a comprehensive program that can help Marawi Cty bounce back, but the DOST correspondingly looks at this as concrete way to boost the S&T human resources of the whole archipelago. We hope that this sparks the rebuilding of Marawi and of the nation as a whole,” de la Peña disclosed. (30)