CHED shutters 15 maritime programs following review


The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has shut down 15 maritime programs, which failed to meet international standards, as part of its review of seafarer schools nationwide.

In a press conference in Malacañang last Tuesday, CHED Chairperson Prospero E. De Vera III said the crackdown is part of the government’s initiatives to address the concerns raised by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on the quality of the training of Filipino seafarers.

“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,” De Vera said.

Aside from CHED, the said technical panel also has representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

The number of shuttered maritime programs could still increase due to the ongoing nationwide review of the technical panel.

“We will wait for the evaluation. I don’t know we’ll have to wait after DOTr, MARINA, you know, we go through the schools again and we will find out whether all the schools are compliant,” De Vera said.

CHED implemented a 5-year moratorium on the creation of new maritime programs so the technical panel can finish its backlog.

“This is the first time that we declare 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,” De Vera said.

“It will be hard for us if there will be no moratorium, while we evaluate the existing [maritime programs] as well as the new programs. It will be an endless [process],” he added.

De Vera said CHED, DOTr and the MARINA are looking for additional “allies” to help better monitor the compliance of maritime schools with international standards.

New test

To ensure Filipino seafarers will be able to continue to meet international standards, the government will be coming out with a new test and course for maritime students.

De Vera said the Center for Educational Management is currently developing a new assessment test, which will measure the readiness of students who take maritime courses.

“We will make an assessment tool to guide the students to make sure they will fit [in the course] they will take,” he said. “We want to make sure the assessment abides with international standards.”

MARINA also announced it is eyeing the creation of a course for the “decarbonization” of ships.

“We have the upskilling and reskilling of our seafarers in preparation for the decarbonization and also those with greenhouse gas effects—those are matters that need to be upskilled and reskilled because sooner or later all ships must be decarbonized,”  MARINA  Administrator Hernani N. Fabia said.

Fabia said they may tap the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) to provide the said training.

“The facilities in NMP are really suited for upskilling and reskilling our seafarers for the training of our maritime trainers and educators,” the MARINA official said.

The said innovations are part of the government’s ongoing efforts to further improve the quality maritime training in the country and ensure Filipino seafarers will continue to be recognized by the European Commission (EC) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The country has just secured the recognition from the EC last month after undergoing a 15-month review process, which showed the government made a “serious effort” to ensure the country complies with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers.

“The recognition is good for 10 years, subject to reassessment and monitoring by the EMSA. So that’s why we also have to conduct regular training and capacity building for our stakeholders and our marine personnel,” Fabia said.