Asia-Pacific, Philippines, Opinion

The Corruption of Professional Education in the Philippines

How much are you willing to spend to earn your professional title? The normal answer would be: it depends. We know, as professionals, we do not have much choice, do we? But especially in the Philippines, the corruption of professional education is worrying.

If you’re a professional who underwent weeks of review to pass the board, what would you say if you would be required to spend another almost Php 100, 000 (roughly $200 USD) to keep your license?

We know that most of us would find this a necessity in order for them to fully function in their chosen field. We understand that learning and education is endless. It means that, as time passes, we discover new ideas and concepts and in order for us to cope with the knowledge gap, we ought to attend seminars or courses so we stay updated. This way, we are able to better contribute to the necessary industrial or economic requirements of our chosen profession. Some jobs require licenses in order for a worker to be legitimately recognized as a professional in the field and maintaining that license would mean being able to continuously practice in the industry.

Professional Education in the Philippines: Investments, not Cost

We accept that, but here is the truth: professional education is expensive.

Expensive to the point that it is almost a privilege and no longer a right. However, in the Philippines, we are still willing to comply with any regulations the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) mandates in order to renew our professional licenses. Even if this would mean an added out-of-pocket cost of about Php 100, 000 (about $2,000 USD) to complete the required 32 Compliance with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) seminar units.

This may be too much for most Filipinos who earn an average of Php 10,000 in their first jobs. However, they know it is an investment, as it will eventually mean professional gains. Thus, they work harder to save and to enroll in these Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) accredited seminars. Why? Apparently, these units are necessary to renew a professional license.

A Professional Financial Dilemma

Let us picture this. Before an individual is able to earn a degree, that person must spend hundreds of thousands to graduate. And should the course of professional education require a board exam, that same individual would need to enroll in tuition centers to prepare for the exam. In short, to get a better chance to get a good job and, eventually, a good business, spending on professional education is necessary. And the results? Student debts young professionals pay for as soon as they land a job. Moreover, with the minimum basic pay they earn, how do you actually expect them to save enough to pay for PRC-accredited seminars that cost at least Php4, 500 ($90 USD) per one or two units?

We know that, as practicing professionals, each should be responsible enough to work on what they have, in order to fully comply with the mandates of their chosen field. All of them do want to keep their licenses, that’s for sure, some even acquire postgraduate degrees to better themselves. Given the time restrictions and, especially, their financial conditions, license renewal is a huge burden for them.

Professional Education: A Working Class Reality

Being proactive will tell them that if the salary they get is not enough, then it is their responsibility to find extra income in order to be able to shoulder all their expenses. But the thing is, isn’t this mindset a bit inconsiderate?

You see, in the Philippines, most professional degree holders are required to work overtime and sometimes even on weekends to satisfy the needs of their companies. Any accountant or auditor can tell you that. Although these professions pay well to seasoned title-holders eventually, we need to consider the younger generation, too.

Given the time requirements, how can they possibly have time to work another two or three jobs? Ask any millennial professional and they will tell you how interested they are in moving up the success ladder. They do want to comply but it’s almost impossible for them financially.

You see, renewing licenses and professional education require costs: seminar payments, notary public dues, processing fees, and all other financial obligations. These are on top of their monthly rent and other bills. Though they want to work on it as timely as possible, they just can’t. Not because they are lazy, not because they don’t care, but because resources for them are currently scarce and finding other means is also difficult for them.

The Future for the Philippines

We know that fees are expensive when it comes to training and development because it is a professional fee, but just imagine the attendees who are mostly living from paycheck to paycheck. Even if they would be able to complete the 32 units, it would cost them a fortune – given their current financial status.

The question remains: should professional education, be it in general terms or license renewal-related, be really expensive? Should working conditions in the Philippines be this financially draining? Because if this is a general working class system, then how can we expect a younger generation, that is ready to explore opportunities, to make the Philippines better?

If professional education ought to be expensive, then we should stop calling it a right and maybe we need to start to believe that it is indeed a privilege.

About Patricia Abrihan

Patricia has always been inspired by the witty yet innocent voice of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird that she believes that writing is able to revolutionize ideas of society. She is a former college instructor from the Philippines and is currently a freelance writer and blogger managing her portfolio. She is open to collaboration and also loves reading and watching movies.

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