Convert vacated school buildings into senior work centres

With the impending merger and closure of several schools by 2018 because of falling enrolment, the resulting empty premises could be put to better use ("22 secondary schools in big pair-up"; March 5 and "Put vacated school buildings to good use" by Ms Maria Loh Mun Foong; March 9).

We may have fewer students, but we can expect more senior citizens in the coming years due to our increasing greying population.

I propose the setting up of senior work centres like those in Japan. These centres could employ senior citizens who wish to occupy their free time with more meaningful activities and, at the same time, earn some pocket money.

The centres would also benefit many old people who are still working to sustain themselves, especially those who collect cardboard or work as karung guni men. The centres would provide a safer and more dignified setting, where these older workers are better protected and well taken care of.

They would also help tackle the problem of age discrimination encountered by older folk today.

This Japanese concept of senior work centres is, thus, worth emulating and adopting here.

Instead of asking our seniors to compete in a losing battle for employment in the competitive marketplace, such centres seek to bring readily available jobs to their doorstep.

We could improve on the Japanese model by providing other recreational activities in the centres for the seniors. The tripartite efforts of the Government, National Trades Union Congress and employers could work something out in this respect, to ensure that our seniors are well taken care of and gainfully employed in their sunset years.

Seah Yam Meng