It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Even coding.
Ms Brenda Yap, 66, is one good example. She recounts tinkering with a pocket-sized codeable computer, known as a micro:bit, during a three-hour Basic Digital Making class last April.
It is one of the courses offered by the National Silver Academy (NSA) and one of her favourites to date.
“I heard even primary school kids were learning to use this tool in school and was curious to find out more,” she says.
Held at RSVP Singapore, an organisation that engages seniors in purpose-driven volunteerism, her class was introduced to basic coding techniques with hands-on exercises, which eventually enabled them to programme a simple game with the device.
The courses are conducted by post-secondary education institutions such as universities, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education, and community-based organisations including RSVP Singapore. They are designed to let seniors like Ms Yap learn something new and of interest to her, as well as stay active.
“Technology has evolved at such a fast pace. I feel the need to continue learning, stay updated and keep practising what I have learnt in order to prevent memory loss,” she says.
Ms Yap has also attended other digital courses under the NSA, including Online Storage and Sharing (Google Drive) and Introduction to iMovie (iPad), collecting a series of certificates along the way.
“I love the friendly environment. In the classroom, I can easily approach trainers with any queries I may have. They are also very patient with us,” says Ms Yap.
Her newfound knowledge has eased various aspects of her life, however simple they may seem.
Besides being able to free up space on her phone by transferring older photographs to a cloud storage service, she can independently book plane tickets online for a family trip and navigate search engines to get ideas for crafting hobbies.
What she learns isn’t limited to the course syllabus either. Trainers also share the latest digital trends and mobile apps that may be useful for seniors. Discovering translation mobile apps has also come in handy for Ms Yap, who works as a cashier at a local pharmacy.
“I often encounter foreign customers who don’t speak English or Chinese. The translation app enables me to communicate with them easily,” she says.
She hopes more seniors can start taking up NSA courses before retirement to make lifelong learning a way of life.
“It helps that these courses are made affordable and accessible for us with subsidies and availability of SkillsFuture credits,” she says.
Today, she spends her Tuesday and Thursday mornings at RSVP Singapore, where she greets fellow seniors who come for courses.
Becoming a volunteer receptionist for the past year has enabled her to interact with other like-minded seniors and recommend classes to them.
“I enjoy acquiring new skills. Having the knowledge to impart to other seniors in the community is such a great joy to me. It’s like my life has just begun.”
ABOUT NATIONAL SILVER ACADEMY (NSA)
• NSA is a network of post-secondary education institutions and community-based organisations, offering a wide range of learning opportunities to seniors aged 50 and above. It is administered by the Council for Third Age (C3A), an agency that promotes active ageing in Singapore.
• Eligible seniors can enjoy subsidies when taking short courses under the NSA.
• Singaporean seniors who wish to participate in exam-free modules at the post-secondary education institutions only need to pay a token fee.
• Seniors can also use their SkillsFuture Credit to defray the out-of-pocket cost for most NSA courses.
• For more information on NSA courses, visit www.nsa.org.sg or call the NSA hotline at 6478-5029 (Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm, excluding public holidays).
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