A Philippine delegation headed by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan with Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Acting Chairperson Angeline T. Chua Chiaco and Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Wilfredo C. Santos met on January 31 and February 1 with high-level Qatari officials including Mohd A. Alhamadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education, members of the Supreme Education Council (SEC) and officials of the Urban Planning and Development Authority (UPDA).
The mission tackled the problems faced by Filipino engineers and architects in Qatar. Qatari Law requires all engineers and architects to be registered with the Urban Planning and Development Authority (UPDA). Because Filipinos lack the usual 12 years of basic education, their Bachelor’s degrees are considered by the Qatar Supreme Education Council (SEC) as equivalent to a Diploma. Thus, Filipino professionals were prevented from registration with the UPDA. It was feared that this would result in loss of jobs for 12,000 Filipino engineers and architects.
The results of the visit were most positive and productive. The worst fears of Filipinos losing their jobs in Qatar are unfounded. Clearly the Qatari government does not want to lose the Filipino professionals who are a most valuable resource in the country. While the government is now serious about implementing the 2005 law requiring registration, they are willing to make accommodations for the lacking years in the Philippine education cycle.
The UPDA has agreed to accept for registration all applicants who graduated from institutions that are on a list of approved Philippine higher education institutions (HEIs). They are currently working from a list of about 90 HEIs. CHED will provide them with an expanded list of recognized programs. Graduation from an institution in the approved list along with the possession of a PRC license will qualify professionals to apply for registration. The registration examination can be attempted four (4) times. In the unlikely event that the applicant fails the fourth attempt, this will not necessarily result in losing one’s job but one’s title may have to be changed. The deadlines for accomplishing the registration process are flexible.
The acceptance of the Philippine Bachelor’s degrees despite the missing two years of Basic Education is a work in progress. The SEC and CHED will work separately on specifying the outcomes for the relevant degree programs. The SEC will start their work shortly, while this is already ongoing at CHED. It is anticipated that when it can be demonstrated that the learning outcomes of Philippine and Qatari Engineering and Architecture degrees are comparable, Philippine graduates will automatically be accepted for registration. With the implementation of the K to 12 reform, the equivalence of Philippine degrees will not be an issue in the future.
During the meeting with Qatari officials, the Philippine delegation reiterated a previous invitation from CHED for a Qatari delegation composed of the Ministry of Education, the SEC, and the UPDA to visit the Philippines at the soonest convenient time in order for them to better understand and appreciate the Philippine education system and institutions, particularly those offering programs in Engineering and Architecture.
The visit of the delegation from Qatar to the Philippines will be scheduled in a few months, possibly at the start of the next Philippine School Year when the work on Qatar outcomes is expected to be completed. A Memorandum of Agreement in Education between Qatar and the Philippines is being discussed.
Issued this 3rd day of February 2016 at the Higher Education Development Center Building, C.P. Garcia Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City.
Patricia B. Licuanan, Ph.D.