/ 30 December 2022

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday said that the development of talent for cybersecurity should start from basic education.

Considering the country’s vulnerability to cybercrimes, Gatchalian highlighted the importance of filling the country’s shortage of cybersecurity experts.

He made the comment after the Department of Information and Communications Technology said it eyes short-course training programs for cybersecurity experts and software engineers.

According to DICT Secretary John Ivan Uy, the Philippines has only around 200 certified cybersecurity experts compared to Singapore’s 3,000.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, stressed the need to increase enrollment in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics strand of senior high school where potential cybersecurity talents can be developed.

He noted that there are 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,” Gatchalian said.

The senator also suggested that skills related to cybersecurity 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. When they move to college, they can already specialize in various fields,” Gatchalian said.

The lawmaker filed Senate Bill 476 or the Equitable Access to Math and Science Education Act, which seeks to build a math and science high school in the country’s provinces.

Earlier this year, cybersecurity company Kaspersky Security Network reported that in 2021, more than 50 million web threat attempts were foiled in the Philippines, making the country the fourth most targeted by cybercriminals.

The same report revealed cyberthreats detected in the Philippines rose sharply by 433 percent from 2017 to 2021.