“Go back to school”! “You need to complete certain courses!” “We have assessed your credentials but certain conditions are to be met!” “Your training and experience are not up to standards in the interest of public safety!”
Some discouraged or rejected registration applicants cried: “ridiculous and inconsistent assessment standard”, “outright protectionism”, or even ” blatant discrimination and racism”. These are the common litany of complaints and concerns usually heard from Philippine-educated professionals who applied in the past for certification to practice their careers in Ontario or other provinces. Critics and observers repeatedly said that this unhelpful situation may be labeled as “professional de-skilling” and “loss of foreign talents and skilled immigrants” who are well-trained and ready to contribute to the development of Canada, but otherwise not given reasonable, fair, and ample opportunity.
As established and practiced, professional licensing is by law and a provincial jurisdiction responsibility. In essence, if one is to practice a regulated profession, one has to go through the licensing process which is a standard course of action, especially for immigrants and newcomers to the country. There are known barriers though that are identified if not experienced by Filipino professionals coming into the Canadian labour market and in seeking professional practice status.
On many professional regulatory bodies, such as in Ontario, the standard academic requirement includes a Post-secondary degree, for example, a BA or BSc, that must include the minimum equivalent of at least three years of full-time study or 90 credits or the equivalent beyond the Ontario secondary school diploma (Grade 12) or its equivalent. The required bachelor’s degree must come from an accredited post-secondary institution acceptable to the designated College or the professional licensing agency.
Main Barrier. One of these many barriers is the so-called “educational equivalency”. This type of academic education-related problem is considered one of the many problematic barriers for so long a time, I believe. The professional licensing process is generally considered a bane and a big challenge to meet in many instances and is being commonly faced by many Filipinos or Filipino-Canadians alike. Why is this so? Let me analyze this matter and share my take on this perennial problem.
Basic Education Standard. Although there are others found to be qualified and have successfully met the qualification standards, most often, one would get a disappointing result. There are many reasons for these. One of them, perhaps, is the acceptable level of basic educational attainment completed by a Philippine-trained licensure candidate and correspondingly, the lack of understanding or lack thereof of appreciating the Philippine educational system, including maybe the whole gamut of basic education system operating in the Philippines by some Canadian professional regulatory or licensing bodies.
Early and Past Licensing Applications. First, from the time of the Filipino diaspora to Canada in the early 50s to the late 20s, Filipino-educated professionals have sought and/or are seeking currently to get licensed in some provincial jurisdictions met some roadblocks. Curriculum-wise, the basic education ladder in Ontario was 13 years long up until 2003. During these eras, however, in terms of counting the total number of schooling years and in the absence, perhaps of available information, comparatively, the length of basic education attained by Filipinos is short by at least 2 years overall. Thus, the usual assessment of Grade 12 + is the certification that many Filipinos “disappointingly and grudgingly received.”
Basic Comparison. Depending on which era or year one has applied for professional accreditation, for example in Ontario, certain relevant information needs to be considered and appreciated to understand the education system and curriculum during a given period. In Ontario in 1954, 16 becomes the compulsory school-leaving age for all students, with work exemptions while in the Philippines, there is no compulsory age that a student could leave school. Exemptions for work are removed from school legislation in 1970. All students, therefore, must attend school until age 16. Up until In 2003, secondary education is up to Grade 13. However, Grade 13 is replaced by Ontario Academic Credit (OAC). Still, to enter university studies, competitively, applicants should have at least some OAC courses completed. In 2003, secondary education becomes a four-year program, with the phasing out of Ontario Academic Credit. So, basic education in the province is for 12 years, an 8-4 curriculum, that is, eight years elementary schooling and 4 years of high school education, not counting 2 years of pre-school or kindergarten training.
In the Philippines, the basic education structure is for a ten-year period or 6-4 curriculum, from 1946 until 2013 , the year when the K-12 curriculum was established. Thus, Filipinos applying for accreditation during those years ( from 1946 to 2016) are generally “determined to be lacking in the number of required credits and/ or short of the equivalent of full 2 years of elementary and high school education” without receiving the benefit of officially stating the obvious in the final assessment report. Hence, the apparent if not discouraging, non-equivalency assessment. The old basic education system in our country hindered us in becoming more competitive among other countries with 12-year basic education system.
I could be wrong but, I assumed and in my considered opinion, that that was the case. So what can we do
to address this “brutal truth”. In the next issue, I will talk outline and explain some well-thought-out strategies and suggestions for consideration by all stakeholders.
By Tony A. San Juan