Philippine government will allow private sector to offer Arabic classes



ABU DHABI // Maid recruitment agencies in the Philippines have welcomed their government’s decision to allow them to conduct training in Arabic language and culture.

They said the move would help to ease the backlog of maids in need of such training.

Filipinas bound for the Middle East have had to wait for up to two months to get an appointment for a pre-departure orientation seminar.

“Some of the maids we’ve recruited have had their visas cancelled because they have yet to attend the course,” said Marilyn Buising at Majestic Manpower Services in Abu Dhabi.

“One maid got an appointment for June 2-4 and her two-month visa is about to expire on June 10.”

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) launched the orientation course for maids in 2009. It includes language and culture training and a stress-management course over two to three days. The course is intended for maids to familiarise themselves with their contracts and the Arab country in which they will work.

Under an agreement signed on May 7, recruitment agencies are required to set up their own training programme on the Arabic language and culture.

This would allow Owwa and non-government organisations to double the number of training facilities and lecturers, and focus on orientation for maids and stress-management courses, said Emmanuel Geslani, a recruitment specialist in Manila. Lita Hizon, a member of the Philippines overseas employment administration (Poea) governing board, said that would help to ease the backlog.

“The main reason behind the move is to allow a shared responsibility between the government and the private sector. It’s about time that recruitment agencies are concerned about the welfare of the workers they deploy,” she said.

Owwa first needs to inspect the training syllabus, the trainers and venue before accrediting a recruitment agency’s training programme, according to Ms Hizon.

“I will help them with their syllabus,” she said. “We would like them to come up with a uniform and quality training programme.”

Ms Hizon, who is also the president of a coalition of recruitment agencies, said the agencies could start Arabic-language training as soon as June 22.

"I would like agencies to provide a two-week training course so that workers can communicate better and interact with their employers," she said. "It could prevent misunderstandings as a result of cultural differences and a language barrier."

Mr Geslani voiced optimism about increasing the number of maids sent to the Middle East this year. “The market right now is very good for household service workers,” he said. “A lot of factors are causing the delay, and one of them is the Owwa schedule, which is now being addressed.”

rruiz@thenational.ae


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