Philippines: Government to test million-dollar online exam system on seafarers

No more lining up for hours under a hot sun to register for the professional exam. No more waiting in agony for the release of results. By this month, seafarers wanting to take examinations for marine deck officer licenses can register online, take the walk-in computerized exam, and get the results soon after the test. The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced recently in a forum the readiness of the computerized walk-in examination process under the Licensure Examination and Registration Information System (Leris).

The long wait is over, PRC chairperson Leonor Tripon-Rosero said, five years after Leris was mandated by a law to computerize examinations to be given to Filipinos from 42 types of professions seeking license or renewal of their license. These include teachers, nurses, mechanical engineers, dentists, and x-ray technicians, among others. Seafarers would be the first sector on which the system would be applied. Private firm Geo-Spatial Solutions Inc. GSI) is crafting and implementing the electronic design that would process thousands of items in a databank of questions, according to Capt. Constantino Arcellana Jr. , who is also a member of the board of marine deck examiners. GSI president Efren Ricalde Jr. confirmed they are readying the platform to implement the Leris for seafarers. The implementation of Leris was nine years late in coming.

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The PRC blamed the delayed implementation on the lack of funding even as the Norwegian Government and the International Maritime Organization donated US$1. million in 1997 and a seafarer’s union also donated 40 computers recently. The PRC also pointed to the lack of security, but Ricalde said this concern has been addressed by GSI as the system would use “state-of-the-art” firewalls and other security features. “We would not leave any window of opportunity for hackers,” Ricalde said, adding that only professional board examiners could access several points in the system.