Movement to equip all S'poreans with digital skills launched

IMDA sets up $2.5m fund that is targeted to grow to $10m over next three years

President Halimah Yacob and Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran (centre) with Madam Patsy Low, 69, as she makes a video call to her sister, guided by Singtel volunteer Elina Ang (left), at NTUC Health's Senior Activity Centre in Ta
President Halimah Yacob and Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran (centre) with Madam Patsy Low, 69, as she makes a video call to her sister, guided by Singtel volunteer Elina Ang (left), at NTUC Health's Senior Activity Centre in Taman Jurong yesterday. Also present was Infocomm Media Development Authority chief executive Lew Chuen Hong (right). ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

A fund has been set up as part of a new national movement to equip all Singaporeans with digital skills and help bridge the digital divide.

The Digital for Life movement and fund was launched by President Halimah Yacob yesterday.

It will have $2.5 million in seed funding, provided by the President's Challenge, and is targeted to grow to $10 million over the next three years, for use in community-initiated projects which encourage people to adopt digital technology.

The fund, set up by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), will also support activities that promote good digital habits, such as in the areas of cyber safety and media literacy.

The Community Chest will help facilitate community contributions towards this fund, with the Government matching donations dollar for dollar.

Madam Halimah, who is the patron of the movement, said the pandemic threatens to widen the digital divide even as it has hastened digitalisation efforts, with businesses moving online and more using digital solutions such as e-payments or videoconferencing tools.

Those who are unfamiliar with technological tools, or have no access to them, will face challenges in their "digitalisation journey".

People can also be endangered if they do not know how to identify or mitigate the risks present in the digital domain, Madam Halimah said.

"As the digital landscape changes rapidly, we need the entire community to come together to build and strengthen our digital resilience.

"To do so, we need to understand and collectively address the digital needs of different segments of our society," said Madam Halimah, who announced the movement at the launch of this year's President's Challenge.

The event, held at NTUC Health's Senior Activity Centre in Taman Jurong, was also attended by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.

He said he hopes the movement will also help to raise awareness of the various digitalisation programmes and initiatives, such as the Seniors Go Digital programme, which has helped over 60,000 seniors learn to tap e-payment methods, among other digital services and skills.

This year's President's Challenge will focus on building a digitally inclusive society, said Madam Halimah.

It will also raise funds for a record total of 92 agencies, to help tide the vulnerable over the difficult times caused by Covid-19.

In her speech, Madam Halimah warned that the year ahead will continue to be a challenging one, as the virus is still a threat globally and economic headwinds will likely persist in the near term.

"As we forge ahead, let us not forget those who are most vulnerable amongst us."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2021, with the headline Movement to equip all S'poreans with digital skills launched. Subscribe