Board Exams for Filipinos in Middle East

Good news to Filipinos working in the Middle East. You don’t have to go back to the Philippines to take your licensure examinations, in case you haven’t taken it yet or failed to pass your last attempt. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered government agencies, through Executive Order 835, to hold yearly board exams in the region. The Special Professional Licensure Board Examinations will be conducted for qualified overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and other Middle East countries that have diplomatic relations with the Philippines.

Filipinos in United Arab Emirates. Photo credit: Joseph Lacson

The Professional Regulations Commission will hold the exams in coordination with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Bureau of Immigration, and the Philippine Professional Organizations (PPO) in Saudi Arabia.

The exams will be held once every year, starting December 2009. There are more than a million OFWs working in the Middle East, majority of them in oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Many of them are unskilled workers but have obtained college degrees in the Philippines. Many of them were unable to take or to pass the examinations back in the Philippines and fulfilling them would be a logistical problem, considering their working contract, distance from their homeland and various other reasons.

Bringing the exams to where the examinees are located, especially in the Middle East, is a good news. The question we can ask now is that will these qualifying exams for Filipinos in the region benefit their careers at work or impact on their competitiveness? Teachers Board Exams are currently being implemented in Hong Kong, but even those who passed the Licensure Exams for Teachers (LET) are reluctant to give up their domestic helper jobs that pays them more than what they’ll earn as public school teachers in the Philippines.

Surely, when Pinoy OFWs go back to the Philippines, such qualifications will definitely be useful. However, for those who want to go elsewhere and return to the country only to retire, such news offers little relief.