Seniors participating enthusiastically in the infocomm quiz.
Auditoriums at the Singapore Polytechnic were filled with learners decades older than the average student on the weekend of 28 and 29 November. The crowd, mostly retirees, were there for Silver Infocomm Day, part of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore’s (IDA) Silver Infocomm Initiative to get Singaporeans above 50 onto the digital highway.
In his welcome remarks, IDA’s Chief Executive Officer RADM (NS) Ronnie Tay stressed that “infocommunication technology can be enjoyed by both young and old”. He observed that more and more older adults were into social networking, creating Facebook profiles to keep in touch with old friends as well as their children, and playing games.
“Such online activities help us remain socially connected and engaged, which is good. I hope that today’s lessons would help you continue to enjoy such applications and even better, break new boundaries in your usage of IT,” he said.
Helping the silver surfers on their journey on Silver Infocomm Day were talks on subjects like Windows 7, e-banking, blogging and Social Networking via Facebook. Outside the auditorium were booths on remote camera networks, and for beginners, inexpensive computer lessons.
Altogether, the programme was well received. Ms Zai Rahman, a retiree, resolved to sign up for a computer course with Retired & Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP), the non-profit organisation aimed at seniors, which she learned of at the event. “Previously, I didn’t know where to go to learn about computers, and if I’m at home and something conks out, I wouldn’t know who to call up. I give full credit to IDA for introducing these things to overcome the hesitation in adopting these technologies,” she said. “Maybe there are a lot of seniors like me, without a computer. I’d like to learn to use it as a tool.”
Another computer owner, who attended the Mandarin programme, Mr EK Zhuang, found the sessions very informative. “I know how to use the computer, but I’m not totally competent,” he said. Among Mr Zhuang’s worries are viruses, spyware and “which buttons you shouldn’t press”. The session cleared up a lot of doubts, especially about viruses. “I wanted to go to the English talk, on Windows 7. They say it’s one of the best because it makes things more simple.”
Ms Jenny Lee, a computer-owner who is yet to develop a deep relationship with her machine, said, “I thought I’d check it out. I have a connection, but I hardly use it,” she said. “I’m retired, so if I don’t attend and learn, I will be left behind.”
New Silver Infocomm Junction to open in Tampines
A new Silver Infocomm Junction (SIJ) will be operational at the iClickz Club in Tampines Avenue 5 by the first quarter next year. It will be one of four more in the pipeline which will be set up islandwide by October 2010.
The SIJs, set up under the Silver Infocomm Initiative which was launched in 2007, are IT learning hubs which offer affordable infocomm training and customised curricula for senior citizens to learn IT skills. Currently, there are four SIJs located at RSVP Singapore at Bishan Junction 8, Marine Parade Family Service Centre, CDAC@Bukit Panjang and Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club. Since November 2007, more than 8,700 training places have been taken up at the SIJs.
Other facilities to be set up under the Silver Infocomm Initiative include 100 Silver Infocomm Hot Spots. With free IT facilities, these will be situated at accessible locations like Community Centres, Senior Citizen Connect areas or Clans and Society buildings. The deployment of the hot spots is slated to take place from January 2010 to end-2012.