On the hindsight…on research, salaries and honor

Its quite a sad April fools day for UP Students. The FC fire is really sad, and well the Diwata issue quite heartbreaking too. My sympathies are with the engineers that we sent abroad. They were overworked, and apparently unpaid. But after some reflection, and after some discussion with some of my colleague in the academe, I think there should be another story that should be told by others who also do research.

For me DOST is one of the top agencies that deserve Government support. If we really want to grow as a nation, then we should invest on the human capital. We should invest on professors who do research, we should invest on students who want to study abroad, we should invest on researchers, scientists and engineers. And I believe that despite the limited funding, DOST is doing just that. It has the ERDT, the NSC and other programs to advance the human knowledge capital.

Do people know how much researchers get when they lead a project? The current rate of being a project leader is 8,800 Php per month (subject to taxes).  As a project leader, you are expected to do intensive research, and you are expected to be the administrator of the project. Given such amount of money, why do researchers still do it? why do we do research despite the very meager salary? (1) Because its research, (2) Because we get to publish.Imagine, we have PhD’s from the US, from Japan, from Europe here who do research for such a meager amount.  The bottom line is we don’t do things for the money.

Putting things into perspective, DOST is funding young students to go and study abroad, and believe me if DOST is sending someone abroad to study, the money allocated for the student is NOT a small amount of money. Students get to participate in some really big projects (like creating a satellite), regardless if its for free or with some honorarium, then after the students finish their scholarship, they are required to come back and pay back for their SCHOLARSHIP, and pay back the OPPORTUNITY given to them. So what’s bad about that? whats so sad about that? Whats wrong with the service bond?

what’s wrong if there is no payment? If a student signs up for a project as big as this,  is the student signing up because he will earn some money? or is the student signing up because he wants to do research and wants to learn something really big? If I were given an opportunity as big as this, I will sign up not because of the money I will earn for the project today. I will sign up for the research, for the things I will learn, and for the money that I will earn after the project….well that is me ofcourse.

Its sad, because after all the hardwork done for the project, after having a really proud moment, a taste as bad as this will be left in our mouths. I hope that we don’t reduce the things that the Engineers, the Scientists, the Faculty members, the Advisers, and DOST’s did for this project as an issue of money and prestige. A lot of great things has been done for this project, and it is sad, that one rant will change all of this.