Ground-up efforts key to digital inclusion: President Halimah

Ground-up initiatives can drive up digital inclusion by connecting beneficiaries to resources that help them increase their digital literacy, said President Halimah Yacob.

The families or individuals who need them are sometimes unaware of the funds, courses and programmes that are available, she said yesterday after observing a digital literacy workshop at Chua Chu Kang Primary School.

The workshop was run by Project Digital Inclusion Programme (Project D.I.P), started in January by Ms Francesca Wah, 30.

Run by a group of volunteers, the programme promotes digital inclusion, particularly among school-going children from lower-income families, by providing them with laptops and teaching them how to use the laptops effectively.

Topics covered in the workshops, which last about seven hours over two days, include basic skills such as changing the desktop background, creating a new folder, using a search engine, as well as Internet safety.

The laptops come from various sources. New laptops are provided for eligible students under the Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA) Neu PC Plus programme. Refurbished laptops are provided for needy students who do not meet the eligibility criteria for the IMDA programme.

Ten schools are participating in the programme, which has benefited more than 350 students, and partnerships with 10 more are in the works.

Ms Wah said she started Project D.I.P after observing children who lived in rental flats struggling with digital access, while working with them as part of another community project she started.

"I noticed that in some of these households, they don't have a laptop nor Internet access to themselves. Even those with a laptop loaned from their schools don't know how to use it, so I thought that we should adopt a holistic approach to promoting (digital) inclusion in Singapore."

Speaking to the media after her visit to the school, Madam Halimah said digital literacy allows children to use a computer in ways that will help them perform better in schools.

Affirming that more ground-up initiatives can be expected to be part of the President's Challenge in future, she added: "The basic premise of the President's Challenge is to empower people - and to empower people, we need so many different hands and legs on the ground."

The theme of this year's President's Challenge is Building A Digitally Inclusive Society.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2021, with the headline Ground-up efforts key to digital inclusion: President Halimah. Subscribe