MANILA — A lawmaker is seeking to abolish the age requirement for applicants taking the board examination for social workers so as not to deprive young graduates of a profession and the opportunity to serve the people.
Sorsogon Rep. Evelina G. Escudero said Republic Act 4373, which regulates the practice of social work and the operation of social welfare agencies, was enacted on June 19, 1965, or 49 years ago, when the age of majority was 21 years old.
“With the pegging of entry level for social workers at 21 years of age, young graduates are unintentionally deprived of a profession and the opportunity to become productive members of society,” said Escudero, vice chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.
To correct this, the lawmaker filed House Bill 5065 seeking to abolish the age requirement for social workers, provide for the continuing social work education, and upgrade the sundry provisions relative to the practice of Social Work.
The bill which is now pending before the committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation chaired by Leyte Rep. Andres D. Salvacion Jr., provides for the amendment of Section 12 of RA 4373, as amended, pertaining to qualifications of applicants of social work licensure examination which provides that the applicant must be a Filipino citizen; Be in good health and of good moral character; Be a diploma holder of a Degree or Master’s Degree or its equivalent in Social Work from an institution, college, or university duly accredited and constituted. Provided that the provisions of RA 9260, otherwise known as the Civil Service Act of 1959, as amended, insofar as cultural minorities are concerned should be applied, and: Has completed a minimum period of 1,000 case hours of practical training in an established social work agency under the direct supervision of a fully trained and qualified social worker. Provided that in the undergraduate program of the institution, college or university, the academic courses preceded the required field practice of 1,000 hours. Provided further that the field practice complied with the Social Work curriculum approved by the Commission Higher Education (CHED) and the Board for Social Workers which specified field practice in working with individuals and families with small groups and with communities.
The bill provides that those who fail to pass three licensure examinations must re-enroll in at least 15 units of basic professional Social Work subjects and pass them, as shown in an official transcript of records, before they can be allowed to apply to re-take another licensure examination. Failure to pass for the fourth time shall automatically disqualify an applicant from taking another Social Work licensure examination.
The proposal also seeks the insertion of new sub-sections in Section 24 of RA 4373, as amended:
Section 24-A provides for a Continuing Social Work Education, so that all registered social workers must provide proof of accomplishing 20 units of continuing professional education (CPE) given by a CPE accredited by the Social Work Board of Examiners as a requirement for renewal of Professional Social Worker’s License.
Section 24-B on Implementing Rules and Regulations provides that the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI) shall jointly issue the IRR within 30 days after effectivity of the law.
The bill seeks the amendment of Section 26 of RA 4373, as amended, on Penal provisions so that erring social workers and persons practicing Social Work through illegal or fraudulent means shall be penalized with a fine of P100,000 to P200,000 or suffer imprisonment of six months to two years, or both, at the discretion of the court.