300,000 seniors lauded for efforts to learn how to go digital during Covid-19 pandemic

The Council for Third Age also recognised 86 partner organisations that moved their activities online. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM COUNCIL FOR THIRD AGE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Madam Mahjaben Shabbir Basrai, 62, was disappointed when most of her volunteering activities were affected after the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020.

A trainer at volunteer organisation RSVP Singapore, she had to adapt and learn how to use video-conferencing application Zoom on her own to continue hosting her sessions.

She said: "During my first online lesson, my two grandchildren sat with me to guide me and they were very excited to be teaching me something. Both of them were hovering over me during the class in case I faced any issues."

Madam Basrai was one of 300,000 seniors lauded for their efforts to learn how to go digital during the pandemic.

The Council for Third Age (C3A), which organised the appreciation event, also recognised 86 partner organisations that moved their activities online. C3A promotes active ageing in Singapore and helms the National Silver Academy, which is focused on senior learning.

Speaking virtually at the event on Thursday (March 24), Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam said: "It's heartening to know that more seniors have developed increased receptivity to digital initiatives amidย the Covid-19 situation.

"This is a reflection on the adaptability of our seniors."

Lifelong learning and adapting to the digital world is important, said Fei Yue Community Services, one of the 86 organisations lauded at the appreciation event.

The organisation, which offers courses and programmes under the National Silver Academy, said that encouraging seniors to move to online courses when in-person activities were affected was tough.

Mr Sammy How, senior manager and head of the elder education department at Fei Yue's Family Central, said: "Seniors did not believe that it was possible for online learning to be effective, especially for those attending beginner courses. It was hard for them to adapt since most seniors are not digital natives."

Madam Basrai said that although there was an initial struggle to adapt, she finds doing things online more convenient now. She added that having the access to programmes like these has brought her joy.

"When you're young, you don't have much free time. Now I'm really enjoying myself as it's the time for me to learn new things and blossom. For me, learning is lifelong."

The National Silver Academy saw an increase of more than 30 per cent in sign-ups for online courses in the past year.

Chairman of C3A Kwok Wui San said: "The pandemic was especially hard on seniors. Many suddenly lose the ability to attend normal physical learning programmes to keep active. We are encouraged to see a large increase in seniors going online to access learning and volunteering opportunities.

C3A's revamped mobile application and website,ย which was also launched on Thursday, will offer more thanย 1,000 learning opportunities for seniors in topics such as health, mental wellness and technology.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.