PAGASA sets up country’s first meteorology degree course keep the Philippines well-prepared against severe weather

Philippines government is training an army of weather forecasters to keep the Philippines well-prepared against severe weather.

For the first time ever, a consortium of scientific and educational institutions led by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), have established the first academic degree course on meteorology in the Philippines.

Science Secretary Mario Montejo said it was high time that the country beef up the ranks of its weather and climate specialists.

“We want to make the Philippines the center for excellence in meteorology,” Science Secretary Mario Montejo said in a press briefing on March 14. He noted that this is a priority of the government as the country is vulnerable to extreme weather such as typhoons and droughts.

Consortium for Meteorology Education and Training (COMET)

Project COMET —short for Consortium for Meteorology Education and Training— said the undergraduate program, the first of its kind in the Philippines, aims to fill a gap in the country’s science personnel.

The schools that will be offering the BS Meteorology course are Rizal Technical University, Mariano Marcos State University, Western Visayas State University, Bicol University, and Central Luzon State University. The schools were selected as these are located in typhoon-prone areas in the country.

“There is no BS Meteorology being offered in the Philippine schools, thus creating a gap in the demand and supply chain for specialized personnel to man weather stations and conduct weather and climate researches,” the consortium said in a presentation.

“The growing concern for the adverse effects of climate and weather is not matched by an increase in the number of specialists in related fields of meteorology and climatology. It is expected that there the need for meteorologists will grow in urgency in the coming years,” the consortium said.

Partylist backing and government support

AGHAM partylist Angelo Palmones lamented the lack of climate scientists and researchers in the Philippines. Dozens of Filipino scientists and weather specialists have been pirated by weather agencies in the Middle East and Australia, previous media reports said. The BS Meteorology program is seen to complement PAGASA’s modernization program, Palmones said.

AGHAM will allocate an initial funding of P2 million from its Priority Development Assistance Fund for the program during the first semester. The Commission on Higher Education has likewise committed P3 million to fund facilities in the participating institutions.

For the first year of implementation, the consortium will accept incoming junior-level students who are taking math, engineering, and science courses at the universities. Palmones said students who are interested in taking up the course still have a week to enroll.

Students need to have advanced math and science knowledge to be able to understand their meteorology courses, Montejo said. As such, they must have a general weighted average of 83 or better in Math, Science, and English.

All of the students’ tuition will be paid by the government. PAGASA forecasters will serve as their lecturers for some subjects. They will also have to work on research under weather officials. After graduation, the students are expected to work for the government and are encouraged to take up graduate degree courses.

At present, the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University only have master’s courses on the subject, with students coming from engineering and physics backgrounds. — TJD, GMA News

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