Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has directed the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to increase its scholarship grants for geosciences courses to help in the geo-hazard mapping and assessment program of the government.

Paje issued the directive in an effort to encourage students to take up geosciences courses to beef up the country’s geologists, including mining and metallurgical engineers.

“The past years saw a steady decline of geologists and mining and metallurgical engineers in the Mines and Geosciences Bureau for two reasons – one is due to their recruitment in the private sector or abroad which offer bigger salaries and two, due to a halt in DENR’s recruitment because of the rationalization program,” Paje said.

According to Paje, the bureau now only has a total of 88 geologists, with 120 vacant positions. “The number of geologists who chose to stay and work with us is barely enough to handle the increasing work load particularly on geo-hazard mapping and assessment which has become a necessity due to climate change,” he said.

For this, Paje is reaching out to incoming college freshmen, particularly those graduating at the top of their class, to take advantage of DENR’s scholarship program.

According to him, there are currently 12 MGB scholars studying geology, mining engineering and metallurgical engineering in only four universities in the country offering such courses. These are the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City; Adamson University and Mapua University in Manila; Cebu Institute of Technology in Cebu City and University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City.

Aside from graduating high school students, Paje said the scholarship program is also open to current college students and qualified DENR personnel who wish to pursue a career in geosciences.

The MGB scholarship covers free tuition fees, monthly stipend of P3,000, and book allowance.

For those interested, they may inquire from the bureau’s scholarship committee at the central office of the MGB at North Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City.