Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday, December 29 said developing the talent for cybersecurity should start from basic education.
While the Depatment of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) eyes short-term training programs for cybersecurity experts and software engineers, Gatchalian said training should start at the high school level.
Considering the Philippines’ vulnerability to cybercrimes, the senator cited the importance of filling the country’s shortage of cybersecurity talents by increasing enrollment in the Science, Technology, Engineerign and Math (STEM).
Gatchalian pointed out there were only 612,857 senior high school students enrolled under the STEM strand, which is equivalent to only 16 percent of senior high school enrollment.
“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.
Skills related to cybersecurity, he said, should be taught at the earliest possible opportunity.
“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,” Gatchalian pointed out.
“When they move to college, they can already specialize in various fields,” he added.
According to DICT Secretary John Ivan Uy, the Philippines has only around 200 certified cybersecurity experts compared to Singapore’s 3,000.
Gatchalian earlier filed Senate Bill No. 476 or the proposed Equitable Access to Math and Science Education Act.
The measure primarily seeks to build a math and science high school in the country’s provinces in a bid to increase the country’s workforce of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and other skilled professionals.
The senator warned gaps in cybersecurity would be harmful to the Philippine economy in the long run if not immediately addressed.
Cybersecurity company Kaspersky Security Network this year reported that for 2021, more than 50 million web threat attempts were foiled in the Philippines.
This makes the Philippines the fourth most targeted by cybercriminals. The same report revealed cyberthreats detected in the country rose sharply by 433 percent from 2017 to 2021.
A 2021 study by digital communications technology conglomerate Cisco also revealed that 57 percent of small and medium-sized businesses in the country encountered a cyberattack, 73 percent of which lost customer information.
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