Cleaning the outside of a window 4 stories up. Photo: Facebook/Time News International/Asia Times
or decades the Philippine economy has been kept afloat by millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) sending money back home. According to philstar.com in an article published early this year, the World Bank ranked the Philippines as the “3rd top remittance receiving country in the world” after India (first), and China (second).
Domestic helpers make up a significant percentage of younger, mostly female, OFWs, working in major cities across the globe. The job can sometimes be quite dangerous. Not all employers are as enlightened or compassionate as people might expect them to be. In the photo above, from an article in Asia Times, a woman is seen cleaning a window from the outside of an apartment building in Hong Kong.
The article notes that “over the past five years, there have been six cases of foreign domestic workers falling to their deaths while cleaning windows. In 2017, the Labor Department introduced rules aimed at protecting domestic helpers from requests to clean the exterior of windows in high-rise buildings.”
Hong Kong authorities set new rules in place. “Two new clauses were added to employment contracts. One clause states that only windows with locked grilles can be cleaned by maids. The other stated that no part of the domestic worker’s body should be outside the window except the arms.”
Placement agencies in Hong Kong speak highly of Filipina domestic helpers. Their level of education and fluency in English allow them to demand higher wages compared with domestic helpers from other countries. Children cared for by Filipina nannies also tended to be more fluent in English, studies showed.
So, while Filipinos are grateful for the outstanding work domestic helpers are doing, in addition to the significant amount of foreign reserves they remit to the economy, we cannot afford to remain complacent.
The government should vastly improve its primary and secondary education systems and make them widely available across the nation. so that tomorrow’s OFWs can have even better paying jobs open to them.
As we mentioned in previous editorials, science and technology continues to gain an ever-greater importance as we move deeper into the 21st century. Tomorrow’s jobs will require a workforce steeped in the sciences, along with the mental dexterity to understand and manipulate an ever-increasing number of new technologies.
Filipino OFWs of tomorrow should not be limited to low-paying, low-skill jobs. They should have their pick of high-paying, high-skill jobs as well. We are a smart, creative, and hard-working people—but in the 21st century, those qualities aren’t enough. You need a firm background in science and technology to underpin those qualities.
We said it before—we’ll say it again: top quality science-based education is the answer. Let’s hope our leaders come to that same realization as well. Published 10/17/2018