MANILA — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Tuesday it needed more personnel to monitor the compliance of maritime schools with international standards.
Around 50,000 Filipino seafarers were previously at risk of losing their jobs on European vessels after Philippine maritime education institutions fell short of international safety guidelines. The European Union later decided to continue recognizing the certification of Filipino seafarers.
CHED Chairperson Prospero De Vera said the Philippines approved an enhanced curriculum for maritime schools that would comply with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.
Authorities have to make sure that maritime schools have the necessary equipment, teachers, and facilities, among others, to implement the curriculum, he said.
This entails "a lot of work because we have a lot of maritime education institutions," De Vera acknowledged in a press briefing.
"Kailangan namin ng dagdag na tao... That’s why kami ni [Transportation] Secretary [Jaime] Bautista will have to look for additional allies to help monitor compliance kasi hindi naman ganoon kadami ang staff ng CHED, hindi rin ganoon kadami ang staff ng MARINA, and the schools are located all over the country," he said.
(We need more personnel. That's why Secretary Bautista will have to look for additional allies to help monitor compliance because CHED and MARINA don't have a lot of staff members, and the schools are located all over the country.)
CHED and the transportation department have tapped the Philippine Coast Guard to help them evaluate maritime schools, De Vera said.
He said the commission also shut down at least 15 "non-compliant" programs in several maritime schools and imposed a 5-year moratorium on new programs to prove that government was "serious" in improving seafarers' curriculum.
"We’re very strict, the technical panel and our technical evaluators have gone through the programs and we have closed 15 over the past year and a half. So, there are programs that are non-compliant," he said.
While the EU has acknowledged the country’s efforts to improve its monitoring, supervision and evaluation for the training and assessment of those seeking to find jobs aboard sea vessels, the Philippines has yet to address at least 5 deficiencies.
Among these are the inclusion of simulators in maritime schools, on board trainings and the improvement of the issuance and revalidation of certificates and endorsements for seafarers.
As of 2022, there were some 490,00 Filipino seafarers in different parts of the world.
Video from RTVM