Learning centre at The Majestic to help seniors avoid scam menace, apply technology in their daily lives

The Majestic Smart Seniors Applied Learning Centre in Chinatown was officially opened by President Halimah Yacob on Feb 18. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Victims in Singapore lost at least $633.3 million to scams last year, nearly 2½ times the $268.4 million stolen the previous year, according to figures released by the police recently.

In a move to tackle the menace, RSVP Singapore has joined forces with Google to launch a series of modules and webinars to teach seniors how to identify and avoid scams, and how to protect their digital identity.

This is just one of the programmes that will be available to seniors at The Majestic Smart Seniors Applied Learning Centre in Chinatown, which was officially opened by President Halimah Yacob on Friday (Feb 18).

Launched by RSVP Singapore, in partnership with Singapore Pools and CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the learning centre is a community space for seniors to learn and apply technology in their daily lives.

Speaking at the launch on Friday, Mr Koh Juay Meng, chairman of RSVP Singapore, said: "Seniors' limited understanding of cyber security and internet safety makes them more susceptible to cybercrime.

"The programmes will bring smart initiatives to the community so that seniors can keep up with time, landscape and technological changes."

Now a cultural landmark, The Majestic, a former cinema, has been redeveloped and is run by Singapore Pools.

The learning centre is located on the ground level and programmes there are projected to start in March, focusing on different themes such as cyber security and e-payment. The aim is to teach seniors digital skills such as online shopping and making payment with their mobile devices.

In her speech on Friday, President Halimah said the centre will inspire more initiatives to improve digital literacy through applied learning, which is critical in strengthening Singapore's digital resilience.

The centre is a community project supported by the Digital for Life movement, which was launched by President Halimah to build a digitally inclusive society.

"In the past two years, the pandemic has changed the way we live, work and play. While it has accelerated Singapore's digitalisation efforts, it has also widened the digital divide.

"In such a rapidly changing digital landscape, coming together and forming partnerships of such nature are imperative to build and strengthen Singapore's digital resilience," said President Hamilah.

RSVP Singapore, a non-profit organisation that encourages volunteerism among seniors, aims to benefit 500 seniors annually through the various initiatives that will be rolled out at the centre.

In one upcoming initiative, Foodpanda will provide seniors with two $15 vouchers, one of which will be used onsite to teach them how to purchase items from the application. Armed with that knowledge, the seniors can then redeem the second voucher in their own time.

These sessions will be conducted by over 40 senior volunteers from RSVP, who have been trained by various partners such as Lazada and DBS Bank.

Singapore Pools chief executive officer Lam Chee Weng said he has seen many seniors struggle to keep up with digitalisation.

He said: "When people retire, they become more removed. They worry that they will lose their life savings when they click a button. It can be very scary...

"We hope to provide a safe environment for our senior citizens to learn technology at their own pace..."

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