K-to-12 graduates as contact tracers proposed

Published July 9, 2020, 4:33 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian proposed on Thursday that the government hire K-to-12 graduates to help in its COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education raised the idea as he noted that the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impacts have limited the opportunities for new graduates who are also seeking jobs.

“We will hit two birds with one stone: We give jobs to young people who are vulnerable at this time and we boost our efforts to contain the spread of the virus,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

Gatchalian appealed for flexibility in the hiring of contact tracers to train and accommodate K-to-12 graduates, citing the case of the United States where contact tracers were supposedly not required to be college degree holders.

He cited an International Labor Organization (ILO) finding young people ages 15 to 24 are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts.

He added that the ILO also identified testing and tracing as a potential employment opportunity for young people and other groups affected by the crisis.

The Department of Health said last May that the government needed 94,000 contact tracers to meet the ideal ratio of one per 800 people.

In his 14th report to Congress on the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, President Duterte said that 54,183 contact tracers have been hired nationwide as June 24.

“Kung bibigyan natin ng trabaho bilang contact tracers ang ating mga kabataan, kabilang na ang ating mga K-to-12 graduates, hindi lamang natin sila mabibigyan ng solusyon sa mga hamong kinakaharap nila. Magiging bahagi rin sila ng mga solusyon upang makabangon ang ating bansa mula sa pinsalang dulot ng COVID-19,” he maintained.