1,000 senior volunteers to be trained as Smart Nation Ambassadors

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary speaks with RSVP chairman Koh Juay Meng (centre) and RSVP Singapore senior volunteer Donald Cheong. PHOTO: RSVP SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Ms NoorJahan Kamaruddin, 60, has embraced navigational apps such as Google Maps and the Land Transport Authority's MyTransport app.

To help other seniors like herself reap the benefits of such apps, the volunteer has conducted lessons on how to use them to search for bus and train routes.

Soon, 500 senior volunteers like Ms NoorJahan will be trained annually over two years to become Smart Nation Ambassadors, where they will coach others on how to use digital capabilities in their everyday lives.

This will be part of a government collaboration with the community, under a two-year memorandum of understanding that was signed by RSVP Singapore, an organisation for senior volunteers, and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) on Saturday (Sept 12).

RSVP Singapore and SNDGO will also co-develop an online learning portal for Smart Nation Ambassadors to learn soft skills and information on Smart Nation initiatives.

The portal will be open to the public, with courses that will help users familiarise themselves with digital government services, how to work effectively with young people, and even on how to operate drones for leisure and play.

The MOU will drive deeper engagement with seniors on using technology, and will help to cultivate a pool of tech-savvy seniors who can help one another on their digital journeys, said Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary during the event, which was live-streamed on Facebook.

He gave the example of Mr Steric Tan, 71, who volunteers as a Smart Nation Ambassador to help other seniors in learning how to use smartphones and mobile apps.

When the circuit breaker was announced earlier this year to curb the spread of Covid-19, Mr Tan taught seniors how to conduct video conferencing using WhatsApp and Zoom so that they could stay in touch with their family and friends.

Mr Tan also conducted virtual lessons over Zoom to teach seniors how to use SafeEntry to check in at supermarkets when it was first introduced.

Dr Janil said: "Smart Nation is not just for the young, it's not just about the young, and it's not just by the young.

"Our seniors have an equal part to play. They will benefit. They can teach us how to do this. They can take us along the journey. We must never think that the senior generation is in any way left behind."

He added that the Government is committed to building an inclusive digital society, where every Singaporean not only knows how to go online, but also has the means to access digital platforms.

This year, the new SG Digital Office (SDO) was launched to recruit 1,000 digital ambassadors by the end of June to help stallholders and seniors learn how to use digital tools.

Since then, about 16,000 seniors have been supported by SDO, said Dr Janil.

Thirty SG Digital Community Hubs have also been set up across Singapore, with 25 more that can be expected in the coming months, he added.

An online platform where Singaporeans can learn new digital skills such as coding or find out about the latest technological trends was also launched by SNDGO this year under the name #SmartNationTogether.

So far, more than 6,000 participants have benefited from 80 online programmes for children, young parents, working adults and seniors, said Dr Janil.

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