BEIJING – Talks are ongoing between the Philippines and China for the entry of more Filipinos to teach English in Chinese universities and primary and secondary schools, Manila’s envoy here said.
With the increasing demand for teachers in English, Ambassador Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said the Chinese government has modified its requirements to allow more foreigners, including Filipinos, to teach in China.
“China has expressed its willingness to add the Philippines in the list of countries that are given employment opportunities for English teachers in China,” Sta. Romana told visiting Filipino journalists. “Talks are under way.”
A formal labor agreement between Manila and Beijing would pave the way for the formal recruitment of Filipino educators, standardize their pay and benefits and protect them from being exploited, he said.
To date, a limited number of Filipinos are teaching in Chinese schools, but most of them are hired informally or on contractual basis, Sta. Romana said.
Despite their English proficiency, Filipino teachers over the years have had difficulty in finding employment in China due to their non-English native speaker status.
However, Sta. Romana said China has recently “expanded” its definition of “English-speaking countries” to include those from the Philippines, where English is a widely spoken language. English is one of the country’s official languages, the other being Filipino, and both are taught in schools in the Philippines.
“Before, the concentration was on native-speaking countries, but now they have included any country where English is taught. They said native-speaking countries and countries that were colonized by these English-speaking countries and the Philippines was colonized by the United States,” Sta. Romana said.
“They laid the groundwork as long as you have the qualifications, meaning college degrees particularly in teaching English or education, that you can actually teach not only in elementary and high school but also in the university if you have that competitive degree,” he added.
Sta. Romana said improving ties between Manila and Beijing under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration prompted China to provide labor opportunities to Filipinos.
“In a sense what they are trying to do is trying to see how they can help out,” he said.
Since he assumed office in June, Duterte has taken steps to mend ties with China that considerably deteriorated during the time of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, who brought the South China Sea territorial rifts to international arbitration in 2013.
China did not specify how many Filipino teachers it wants, but Sta. Romana said it could be “unlimited.”
“The talks are still going on. They want to know how we do it, the government exam for teachers if you have passed that, what qualifications we used in our own education system so they can use it for reference,” he said.
“So when the time is ripe and I think it will happen soon, they will announce it and as long as you have these qualifications and if you’re from the Philippines, you can compete with other countries that are applying for jobs here.”
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