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Baltimore to hire 178 Pinoy teachers

By JOSE KATIGBAK, The Philippine Star Washington bureau
The Philippine Star

WASHINGTON – Baltimore City will hire an additional 178 new public school teachers from the Philippines in the coming school year, the latest in a wave of Filipino migration to hit the United States.

This will bring to nearly 1,000 the number of Filipino teachers in the Washington metropolitan area which includes parts of Maryland and Virginia, said Consul Rico Fos, head of the Philippine embassy’s cultural section.

Fos said teachers follow a long tradition of migrant Filipino professionals supplying the global need for doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers and computer programmers.

Fos recently drove to Baltimore city in Maryland, some 50 miles north of Washington, DC, to look into press reports that 12 Filipino teachers recruited three years ago were in danger of being sent home because the Baltimore City Public School Board (BCPSB) would no longer sponsor their employment visas because of lack of funds.

He said BCPSB officials clarified that while it was true that the city lost its funding for some of its programs, it did not mean the 12 Filipino teachers in the affected programs would not be rehired.

They will instead be transferred to other schools where they are needed and where their teaching skills/specialization matches the needs of the intended school, Fos said.
Maryland suffers from a yearly shortage of about 6,000 teachers and routinely recruits from other states and countries.

The BCPSB informed Fos that by this summer it would be hiring 178 new teachers from the Philippines.

Filipino teachers recruited to the US earn on average about $40,000 a year, significantly more than what they receive back home even amid the shrinking dollar. About two years ago the dollar was worth P55 compared to about P41 now.

In another development, the local recruitment industry Monday warned that with the government’s new hiring policy, fewer highly skilled Filipino workers would get overseas employment this year.

Recruitment industry leaders said the new policy on "direct or name" hires would be limited due to the stricter requirements imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The additional burden of meeting more requirements would discourage foreign employers, said Emmanuel Geslani, a consultant for the recruitment industry.

Last week, the POEA started implementing a policy that requires foreign employers of direct hires to seek approval from the labor secretary prior to deployment.

Previously, the employment contract of name hires just needs verification from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office prior to POEA processing.

The policy also restricts direct hiring to members of foreign embassies and international organizations, and foreign employers are required to post $5,000 repatriation bond aside from the performance bond equivalent to three months’ salary of the worker.

A recruitment official also questioned the POEA decision to allow name hires to pay the peso equivalent of the $125 processing fee for employment contracts.

"If the workers are paying in peso this means that they are shouldering the processing fee when it should be paid by the foreign employer," said the official, who requested anonymity.


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