Manila still far from STCW compliance


Have they finally fixed up the Filipino seafarer factory? Sure, progress has been made. Not least significant was the approval last March of Republic Act 10635, which bestows on the Maritime Industry Authority the sole authority to enforce the STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers). At the very least, the new law should help streamline the system. But those who think the country is now close to complying with the STCW are wrong.

With the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) due to make its fourth inspection since 2006 this October, the MARINA has yet to come up with specific assessment guidelines for the qualification of seafarers. We don’t see them in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for RA10635 or in the agency’s published circulars. This is a glaring lack. Without such guidelines, how can one determine that a seafarer has met the standard of competence set forth under the STCW Code? Let the assessor do his own thing?

We’re surprised that officials have failed to address the issue. All that they need to do is follow the example of the US Coast Guard, which has issued detailed assessment guidelines for the various shipboard positions complete with tables (see example below) The USCG guidelines, recently updated to reflect the 2010 Manila Amendments, are not mandatory. However, alternative guidelines must be submitted to the USCG National Maritime Center for approval before they can be used. The point, clearly, is to ensure State oversight over the training and certification of seafarers.


The road to STCW compliance need not be long and complicated. That it has been so in the case of the Philippines makes us feel that the designers and drivers of maritime reform don’t know what they’re doing or are partially blind. ~Barista Uno


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2 Replies to “Manila still far from STCW compliance”

  1. Richard Teo FNI

    Good morning to all.

    One of the very compelling reasons why STCW code is still elusive is because of the powerful resistance to remain status quo in the percieved academic excellence of traditional teaching and learning within a top down, teacher-centred approach leading to senseless examinations that are graded to subjects regurgitated from memorising large chunks of nonsense that are not aligned to the competences in the standards.

    These then lead to purely academic outputs and zero outcomes. Therefore all candidates that emerged from the graded exams are technically “consciuosly incompetent”. The US version is finally coming to terms and at least identifies each competence from the STCW tables and seeks to ensure that assessment is carried out on the performance of the candidates and not from memory work.

    Feedback from many maritime teaching staff in Manila favours the top down, memory work teaching style, ignoring learning styles of each candidate. I can only assume that it is a “power-distance” dimension in the cultural backdrop. Many frown on the “learner-centred” approach for adult education which empower students to manage their own learning and thus the responsibility that escapes many students who are lectured to, accepting without question the knowledge of the sage standing in front of the class-room. This sage may well lack currency and the competence that many learners may already possess.

    I am encoureaged by the current group of excellent teachers and officers who will present their case for intervention on Nov 25th just before the M&T conference kicks off. The likely venue will be at the Manila Yacht Club. All interested ones are welcome.

    I would also like to add that the excellent work through this blog site is gaining ground and more practitioners will soon move across to the next paradigm in teaching and learning, following STCW Competency Based Learning/ Competency Based Education, Training & Assesment (CBETA) principles and not traditional lecturing and examinations. You have 5 years of track that has gradually influenced much change. Keep it up please.

    Thank you & regards

    Richard Teo FNI FCILT MAICD

  2. guiding light

    It is indeed a long way to go …besides, compliance of the convention will depends on the commitment of our administration, training centers, maritime schools, instructors, and specially seafarers…..wherever we belong….we should know our responsibilities and just do our part for that matter. EMSA is coming in a few days……perhaps, a new chapter will rise in our maritime industry…hopefully….wake me up…when September ends.

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