CHEd seeks more staff to assess maritime schools’ adherence to global standards
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) needs more manpower to monitor the compliance of maritime education institutions with international standards for seafarers.
CHEd chairperson Prospero de Vera on Tuesday said it would need additional manpower to check if all maritime schools are implementing the correct curriculum and have the necessary equipment and facilities to produce “good seafarers” that comply with international standards.
“We have to monitor all of them and use instruments of monitoring and evaluation that satisfies not just our standards in the Philippines, but standards of the European Union (EU),” he said in a Palace briefing.
“They [maritime schools] are located all over the country and you have to go to each institution and evaluate them. Kailangan namin ng dagdag na tao kasi marami,” De Vera added.
He said the CHEd has partnered with the Maritime Industry Authority and the Philippine Coast Guard to evaluate maritime education institutions. However, it is still looking for “additional allies” to help.
“Resources are really very strained, especially at the regional level. So we need all the help that we can get from other government agencies,” the CHEd chief said.
He added that the European Union has agreed to give grants to the Philippines to assist the country in complying with the standards.
Since last year, CHEd has closed down 15 maritime programs that have not complied with international standards, saying the agency has been “very strict” in that aspect.
He said among the reasons for the closure of the programs is that some of the equipment needed was not updated and the faculty qualifications in schools were insufficient.
“If you are a maritime school, you need to continuously upgrade the software, the equipment that you need for international standards, and some of the schools are not able to do that. So, if you are not compliant, we close the program,” De Vera said in a separate interview.
The agency has also imposed a five-year moratorium on new maritime programs so that it will be able to focus on evaluating existing programs.
“This is the first time that we declared a moratorium on maritime education and in the whole history of maritime education. That shows our seriousness, on the part of CHEd and MARINA, that we want to really look at all the programs,” he said.
De Vera issued the statement after the EU continued to recognize the certification issued to Filipino seafarers onboard European vessels.
The Philippines was flagged for grievances and deficiencies identified by the European Maritime Safety Agency in 2006. In 2021, the European Commission warned it would no longer recognize Philippine seafarer certificates unless the country addressed the concerns.
The country tried to implement curricular reforms, examinations, and assessments, among other efforts, to comply with the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Convention.