PH takes steps to address flaws in maritime education

The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) have joined forces to monitor maritime schools in the Philippines, ensuring that the country is producing seafarers whose training and education meet international standards.

Thus far, 15 maritime programs in the country have been shut down for failing to comply with the stringent requirements, CHEd Chairperson J. Prospero De Vera III said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.

De Vera said that Marina, CHEd, and maritime higher education institutions have collaborated to create an enhanced curriculum. The aim is to ensure that seafaring education and training in the Philippines are in compliance with international standards.

“We must make sure it is implemented correctly so the enhanced curriculum satisfies compliance with standards of the STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers),” De Vera said.

He emphasized the need to monitor all maritime schools, not only for curriculum implementation but also to ensure that they possess necessary equipment, competent teachers, and adequate facilities to accurately measure intended competencies and outcomes, ultimately satisfying the European Maritime Safety Agency (Emsa) standards.

It has been over a year since the European Commission warned the Philippines that it would revoke recognition of Philippine seafarer certificates if “serious measures” were not taken to comply with the STCW for seafarers. Around 50,000 Filipino seafarers are deployed in EU member-states.

For the past 16 years, the Philippines has been unsuccessful in passing the Emsa evaluation due to its shortcomings in local training and education.

But on March 31, the European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) said that it will continue to recognize certificates of seafarers issued by the Philippines.

According to the DG MOVE, the Philippines has made “serious efforts” to comply with key areas such as monitoring, supervision, and evaluation of training and assessment, since it informed the country of the possible withdrawal in December 2021.

De Vera said CHEd, Marina, and maritime higher education institutions have put together an enhanced curriculum that must be implemented correctly to comply with the STCW’s standards.

The Philippine government will also ensure that onboard or shipboard training is available to produce seafarers up to international standards, he said.

“We must make sure that all the requirements to produce a good seafarer are there including onboard or shipboard training so that we make sure at the end of the whole process, we produce seafarers that are up to the standards – international standards,” De Vera said.

He said the Philippine Coast Guard will be tapped as a partner in monitoring and evaluating maritime education institutions across the country.

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