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Maritime schools back closure of non-compliant institutions

Maritime schools back closure of non-compliant institutions
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
http://www.sunstar.com.ph/breaking-news/2012/03/13/maritime-schools-back...

MANILA -- Two of the country's largest association of maritime schools and training centers have thrown their support to the intensified crackdown on erring maritime institutions by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched).

In a joint manifesto, the Philippine Association of Maritime Training Centers Incorporated (PAMTCI) and the Philippine Association of Maritime Institutions (Pami) praised the commission's effort to upgrade the quality of learning offered by maritime schools, saying that "ensuring high quality education and training for personnel with emphasis on safety who man the world's foreign flag vessels becomes even more imperative."

Signed by PAMTCI president Engineer Alfredo Haboc and his counterpart at Pami, Benito Chiongbian, the statement added that maintaining the country's competitive edge in the maritime industry needs a well-developed plan not only on how to educate prospective Filipino seafarers but also getting rid of those who refused to follow local and international regulations.

"Toward this goal, we in the maritime industry—higher education institutions, training centers, and other non-government organizations of manning agencies, shipowners and other stakeholders who hone the skills of our Filipino seafarers and shape them to be the most competent and most in-demand sailors of the world's seas, take a stand to unite and extend our full support to the Commission on Higher Education on its thrust to quality maritime education and training," the statement said.

At the same time, PAMTCI and Pami also vowed to assist Ched in making maritime education providers compliant with the Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) to raise the standard of maritime schools in the country and make it at par with the rest of the world.

This, they said has gained added impetus following the decision of the
European Maritime Safety Agency (Emsa) to firmly assess the compliance of Philippine maritime schools and training centers with international standards particularly of safety, skills development and quality assurance.

Both groups acknowledged that failure on the part of Ched to regulate and institute the necessary standards on maritime schools could cripple a vital industry that government figures showed have earned the country some $4.340 billion in remittances, an increase of $540 million from the 2010 figure, from Filipino seafarers abroad last year.

The remittances by seafarers have eclipsed those sent by land-based workers last year.

"We urge, therefore, for concerned government agencies to be vigilant and to close ranks with the private sector in order to maintain this niche as the world's number one seafaring nation. To be negligent or to be complacent of international maritime standards that have been set by regulatory bodies threatens to cripple a vital industry that has sustained our economy through its worst crisis," the statement added.

Earlier, Ched Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan said the commission along with the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) will pressed its crackdown on erring maritime schools to avert negative reaction from international bodies such as the Emsa, which is looking at the country's maritime education, training and certification compliance in accordance with the STCW.

The commission earlier enforced the closure order on two maritime degree courses-Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation (BSMT) and Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering (BSME)-offered by the PMI Colleges after several deficiencies such as on program administration, faculty, laboratory equipment, library, research and development were found.

Licuanan said the same were noted in two more maritime schools, one of which is operating in the Visayas region. She added that the commission and the PMI are part of the 15 maritime institutions that were subjected to an audit by Emsa along with the Ched, Dole, Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) and the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (Tesda) where the deficiencies were found.

But the official said the two have already lodged their appeal to the Ched En Banc. The PMI for its part, have sought the intervention of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC), which issued a writ of injunction against the commission’s decision.

The Ched has already sought a reconsideration of the court's order.

Under existing laws, rules and regulations, the failure of a higher education institute (HEI) to maintain compliance with the requirements for the offering of a higher education program is punishable by closure through a phase-out process of the program.

But closure on non-compliant degrees is taken as a last resort after the school failed to rectify the deficiencies after being given ample time and opportunity to do so.

But the Ched chair said more is at stake considering that failure on their part to comply with STCW regulations meant that the country could be de-listed from the roster of compliant states with the resultant adverse consequences as a result of the European Union blacklisting of Filipino seamen.

For her part, Ched Legal Director Carmelita Yadao-Sison who also heads the task force coordinating implementation of Ched actions on non-compliant courses and programs, denied they were targeting PMI and maritime schools alone adding that the Commission have also issued the same closure order on other institutions with non-compliant degrees such as the Harvardian College in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The closure order for Harvardian Colleges affected courses such as Bachelor of Science in Education, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Bachelor of Arts in English, Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Accounting, Management and Finance and Master of Education Administration, Supervision, Guidance and Counseling. (AH/Sunnex)