Tech courses help seniors get Smart Nation-ready

SINGAPORE - Lack of common areas of interest or affordable ways to make overseas calls are just some of the barriers seniors face when they try to talk to their children or grandchildren, many of whom study or work out of the country.

These are the problems that the People's Association (PA) hopes to resolve through its Seniors for Smart Nation programme which it launched on Wednesday at Kolam Ayer Community Centre (CC).

Seniors can look forward to attending 25 different Smart Nation classes, which will be available across 31 CCs islandwide, including those at Ang Mo Kio, Aljunied and Bedok.

More than 1,000 seniors attended the launch to get a taste of the lessons by going to different booths, trying on virtual reality (VR) goggles and playing with tablet applications.

"Everything is interesting," said Madam Yeo Kim Bee, 68, in Mandarin. "The important thing is to be able to talk with my children and grandchildren."

The 25 courses under the Seniors for Smart Nation programme will fall under four themes: I-Connect, I-Lifestyle, I-Inno and I-Office. These courses range from the basics, like learning to use Facebook and Skype, to teaching seniors how to set up their own web business. They are priced at $10 for seniors, and can be paid for using SkillsFuture credits.

"They must feel comfortable in the use of ICT devices to take advantage of the services, which is why this is a good start by PA, to get them acclimatised to the Smart Nation environment," said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.

PA Chief Executive Director, BBM, Ang Hak Seng added: "As the country moves towards becoming a Smart Nation, we want to make sure we bring the senior citizens along with us."

alexong@sph.com.sg