Knowledge In UP Is Upside Down!

MANILA: On Facebook, my alma mater ever so proud, in the past few days the University of the Philippines proclaimed in 3 instances its wisdom on knowledge. The UP Oblation was so sure of its footing. Now it knows that little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

UP Facebook entry #1:
"Education is indispensable for economic development."

University of the Philippines – Beyond infrastructure, human and knowledge capital – the suprastructure of economic growth offers the best possibilities for sustaining economic growth, for reducing inequality and poverty, and for transforming Philippine society for the next generation of Filipinos.

This is the comment I posted:
Equal opportunities, not education, are indispensable for economic development. Otherwise, only the rich are "developed." This is a UP alumnus speaking.

UP Facebook entry #2:
"UP calls on presidential candidates to invest on knowledge capital."

"We need to ensure that enough of our best minds stay in the country to drive innovation and help develop the rest of our labor force" – UP President Alfredo E Pascual.

On the image of the UP President was this message superimposed: "Higher level education is the key to inclusive growth."

This is the comment I posted:
Not education but public-private-peasant partnerships are keys to inclusive growth. That's the experience of ICRISAT based in India.

UP Facebook entry #3:
"Knowledge capital is the key to inclusive growth – UP Study." (gmanetwork.com)

This is the comment I posted:
And UP keeps the knowledge to itself by not publishing technical papers, or taking 1-2 years to publish a paper. What about popularizing the technical for the consumption of the public? UP is a laggard in this regard. This is an editor speaking, a UP alumnus.

Now I say:

While UP proclaims knowledge as the suprastructure for economic development, where's that knowledge? In and out of UP in the last 50 years, I have observed that the University is wanting in investment in knowledge capital. Knowledge in UP is upside down, not right side up.

What is knowledge? Knowledge is not only what you find in the brains of graduates or students, on the pages of textbooks, or lecture syllabuses, or handouts to be memorized and recited next class. That is limited knowledge. The greater universe of knowledge is the product of research, new or improved data transformed into information as well as into technologies and systems. Why do we do research except to generate knowledge?

Thus considered, UP has negligible investments in the dissemination of knowledge, in 2 crucial areas:

(1)   Technical publishing.
(2)   Popular publishing.

I should know because those are my main interests. So much research at the University of the Philippines System, especially at UP Diliman and UP Los Baños, so many thousands of typewritten pages and printouts of reports kept in cabinets or drawers or lying on table tops, just lying there. Just think of the number of BS and MS theses and PhD dissertations yet to be published!

What has UP not done?

(1)   Not published research results in world-class journals.
(2)   Not popularized those research results in local publications.

Not enough of either. For at least the last 16 years. And here you are, UP claiming that knowledge is capital. If so, where is that capital?

It's knowledge capital that is not expended because it's not extended. Because it is still in a form that is not useful to scientists other than the researchers; you must publish in technical journals so that your peers in other places can judge your work. You must publish in popular publications so that the laymen who cannot decipher technical jargon would know, as these are the people who pay taxes for you scientists to do research for them. In knowledge, UP has been short-changing the citizens of this country.

My alma mater UP cannot brag what it cannot offer.

What must UP do to be able to say, proudly, that knowledge is capital that is key to development?

(1)   Publish research results in technical journals continuously.
(2)   Popularize those results nonstop.

UP Diliman has its MassCom; UP Los Baños has its DevCom and ComArts – what have they been doing all these years in the matter of knowledge publication and popularization?

What's so difficult about publishing a technical journal? Why does it take 365 days before a manuscript submitted gets approved by peers and gets published? What is difficult about desktop publishing science journals?

What is difficult about translating technical language into popular? If there are geniuses at UP, the problem should be none of the above.

It is simply that UP has not invested much in what it says is valuable, the generation itself of the knowledge capital.

What is lacking in UP leadership? It may be lack of recognition of the knowledge needs, and that's unforgivable. What is lacking in UP followership? It may be lack of appreciation of those same needs, equally unforgivable. Why are not those Iskolar ng Bayan, Scholars of the People, rallying against non-delivery of knowledge capital to the people?

For knowledge to get to where the users are, it must be in the language that they understand. Or at least in the language that their advocates comprehend.

Can UP do it? Yes, if we have to wake up UP from its slumber of a century!

I have done them myself, both the publishing and popularizing of knowledge.

I was Editor in Chief of the Philippine Journal of Crop Science (PJCS) for its 2001-2008 issues, at the time when the journal was late in coming out with its issues. The journal was based at UP Los Baños; it still is. In the past 25 years, the previous editors, from UP of course, had known their science but not about publishing. In 2003, I was hired. In 2006, I made the PJCS up-to-date in 3 years from being late 3 years, by being the editor and simultaneously the layout artist myself. And I made that journal world-class, that is, ISI, the next year, which confirmed that the editing met world standards. Truth to tell, I was already 63 when I did all that.

Why can't the staff of any publication in UP do what I almost singlehandedly did? To prove my point, I am willing to do a free half-day lecture demo in a wide UP Diliman auditorium with 200 or more people attending – email me at frankahilario@gmail.com if you're interested. Certainly, I must note that I owe much to Prof Ted Mendoza who was my Chair of the Board of Editors and who took very good care of encouraging paper contributions and peer reviews. 3 months after submission, your paper was already published.

Wake up, you the modern Rip Van Winkle! You UP editors & staff of journals, like the Red Queen said to Alice in Wonderland, I must tell you that you have to run twice as fast just to stay in place. You have to expedite paper submissions; you have to hasten paper reviewing; you have to hurry up editing; and you have to rush publishing. In which case, you must choose your reviewers very well, and your editor, and your publishing staff.

At UP alone, there must be thousands of unpublished research results, awaiting writing, editing and publishing. I know that there is a reward of P50,000 for every paper published in an ISI journal, so I cannot blame the would-be authors. It's the UP leadership itself that is wanting in pushing the writing of more papers by encouraging the publishing of more journals and faster.

And that's only for technical knowledge.

The more important one is popular knowledge if you want knowledge to be the key capital for development. If the people don't hear of new or improved knowledge in the language that they are familiar with, how do you expect them to behave knowingly? Popularizing knowledge discovered by science is the downside of UP. What is the UP Oblation saying now? I don't know.

So, wake up! Editors & staff of UP newsletters. Not popularizing knowledge is a UP myopia. Is it difficult? No. Give me any technical paper and I will convert it into a package of popular knowledge in 2 hours, already in a printout with an image or two. It's just that UP officials have not given it much attention, despite their rhetoric. I don't see any signs of knowledge management that a UP alumnus can be proud of. That does not translate to UP being producers of Iskolar ng Bayan, does it?

Popularizing knowledge is easy. I have been doing it for ages. I was already 67 when I began to write for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in February 2007; I wrote for the institute until December 2014, for a total of 8 years, diffusing their science to the reading world. I have 7 books published by ICRISAT to prove that. The science of the semi-arid tropics is applicable in the Philippines, and that's what largely continues to motivate me to write.

What motivates UP as the National University to proclaim the big value of knowledge as capital and yet little manage it for the sake of the nation?



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