EDITORIAL- Falling in innovation

The Philippine Star

Innovation is a critical component of national competitiveness and a key driver of economic growth. The level of innovation usually indicates a country’s level of development. So it is worrisome that the Philippines, emerging from a crippling pandemic, has dropped by eight notches in the 2022 Global Innovation Index, from 51st to 59th among 132 economies.

The fall followed the country’s one-notch slip last year in the Global Innovation Index, from 50th place in 2020. Ranking in the top 10 in the annual GII, drawn up by the World Intellectual Property Organization, are Switzerland, the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Finland and Denmark.

Among the upper middle-income economies, the top three in the GII are China, Bulgaria and Malaysia. The Philippines, ranked among the 36 lower-middle income economies, went down by a notch to fifth place, with India, Vietnam and Iran taking the top three slots.

Within Southeast Asia, the Philippines trailed Singapore (sixth place), Malaysia (36th), Thailand (43rd) and Vietnam (48th), but ranked ahead of Indonesia (75th), Brunei (92nd), Cambodia (97th), Laos (112th) and Myanmar (116th).

Department of Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. has said the country’s slide in the GII “is a challenge to both the government and private sector to prioritize innovation.” He said the DOST is investing in science and technology facilities, and supporting research and development in many areas to boost, among others, the productivity of local industries.

President Marcos has said he wants new emphasis on the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM, and he wants to revive Filipinos’ edge in English proficiency. The task is daunting; international assessments in the previous years have shown Filipino students performing poorly in reading comprehension, which is needed to understand STEM concepts. Deficiencies in formal education have built up over several decades, even as other countries ramped up investments and reforms in their education and innovation ecosystems.

The country’s fall in the 2022 GII was due mainly to its lower performance score in knowledge and technology outputs, which are driven by knowledge creation, impact and diffusion.

The DOST noted that the Philippines was recognized in the GII as an “extraordinary upward mover, with small setback” in terms of innovation. The rankings, however, are a better indicator of national competitiveness and the country’s standing within the region. And the slide in the ranking is yet another red flag related that should give urgency to improving the quality of Philippine education.


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