Manila: The Philippines is being developed as a hub of flying schools in Asia, with the number of foreign students increasing every year, prompting schools to upgrade and increase investments, sources said.

“The Philippines is already playing an important role in the air transport sector in the region because it is becoming a destination of choice for foreign students who are pursuing aviation studies,” said retired Lt Gen William Hotchkiss, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The Philippines has already gained “competitive edge in training of pilots, aviation technicians and skilled (aviation) workers as shown by the records of at least 36 flying schools in the Philippines,” said Hotchkiss.

The government should firm up policies to help the country’s aviation education sector, said Hotchkiss, adding that this will strengthen the edge already achieved by the country’s aviation education sector with the coming economic integration of the 10-member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) by end of 2015.

Enhancement of the aviation education sector should be included in the government’s programme to integrate the whole air transport sector and ensure that its safety meets international standards, said Hotchkiss.

The European Commission lifted its ban of the Philippine Airlines in 2013, and Cebu Pacific in 2014.

These developments are initially seen as good for tourism, but it could lift up the country’s aviation education sector, explained Hotchkiss. He did not give details.

In a meeting with Hotchkiss, Philippine Ambassador to Myanmar Alex Chua confirmed that students from Myanmar are taking up flying studies in the Philippines.

Other nationals

Sources at the education department said that Americans, Asians, Europeans, and other foreign nationals are studying various courses in the Philippines because of four reasons: the Philippines has one of the best educational systems in Asia; Philippine schools offer quality education and affordable prices, a combination hard to beat; foreign students easily learn English in the Philippines, the third largest English speaking countries in the world; and Philippine culture encourages global thinking.

The Philippines has ISO-certified universities, including 275 higher educational institutions certified as Centres of Excellence and Centres of Development, said the same source, adding that it is one of the reasons why the Philippines is also suffering from brain drain. Thousands of Filipino accountants, artists, architects, doctors, engineers, journalists, IT experts, nurses, teachers, and other professionals work abroad.

Records show that a total of 5,000 foreign students were in the Philippines in 2014 alone.