100 free workshops to equip seniors with basic digital skills

Seniors attending a computer class conducted by a community group. The new Merdeka Generation digital clinics supplement existing educational efforts and are expected to reach about 10,000 seniors over one year.
Seniors attending a computer class conducted by a community group. The new Merdeka Generation digital clinics supplement existing educational efforts and are expected to reach about 10,000 seniors over one year.ST FILE PHOTO

Efforts to equip Singapore's age-ing population with basic digital skills are being expanded, with 100 free workshops to be rolled out from September.

This was announced by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran at the ministry's workplan seminar yesterday.

These Merdeka Generation digital clinics supplement existing educational efforts and are expected to reach about 10,000 seniors over a one-year period.

Participants take a simple survey to assess what areas they need the most help in, including personal data protection, and how to use Internet search engines and messaging apps such as WhatsApp on mobile devices.

Other topics include the tracking of mobile data usage, e-payments and QR code scanning.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is working with the People's Association to organise the clinics, with the full schedule to be available on IMSilver.sg in September.

IMDA began holding digital readiness clinics for seniors in a pilot programme in November 2017.

The free clinics are held at public libraries and community events.

 
 
 

Almost 5,000 participants have attended the clinics, with 95 per cent indicating that they became more confident in using their mobile phones after the session.

Mr Iswaran emphasised the importance of continuing to bolster such digital readiness efforts in response to fast-changing technological trends.

"No matter what you are doing, you are perpetually catching up because technology keeps moving forward," he said.

"It is not as if we can one day say that we have arrived and everyone is now digitally savvy.

"So, we must have the right attitude of continuing to learn."

The number of Singaporeans aged 65 and above is projected to grow to 900,000 by 2030 from 548,000 last year.

Almost half - 45 per cent - of Singaporeans aged 60 and above are still not using the Internet as of last year, IMDA said.

However, this was an impro-vement from around 70 per cent in 2016.

The upcoming clinics were among announcements made by Mr Iswaran that were centred on building a safe and inclusive digital society in Singapore that leaves no one behind.

He also announced a new digital media and information literacy framework, setting out learning outcomes for organisations and agencies islandwide that run digital literacy programmes.

The framework was developed in consultation with agencies that have previously organised such programmes, including Mendaki Sense, Silver Ribbon (Singapore) and Touch Community Services.

"Through the framework and the support of our partners, we want to empower Singaporeans with the know-how to use tech-nology safely and responsibly, and to be discerning producers and consumers of information," said Mr Iswaran.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2019, with the headline '100 free workshops to equip seniors with basic digital skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe