Speech by Mr Lawrence Wong, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts & Education at the Silver Infocomm Day at Nanyang Polytechnic

29 September 2012 - Speech by Mr Lawrence Wong, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts & Education at the Silver Infocomm Day at Nanyang Polytechnic on Saturday, 29 September 2012 at 9.55am

Speech by Mr Lawrence Wong, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts & Education at the Silver Infocomm Day at Nanyang Polytechnic on Saturday, 29 September 2012 at 9.55am

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

1. I am very happy to join you today at the sixth Silver Infocomm Day. When the Silver Infocomm Day started in 2007, there were only 360 participants. Over the last six years, this event has expanded in scope and scale, with last year's event attracting more than 5,000 participants1! This year's event is just as popular, with trainings and workshops lined up over a whole month at eight different locations, including the Institute of Technical Education, Nanyang Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and five appointed Silver Infocomm Junctions or SIJs.

Customised ICT Courses for Seniors

2. Singapore is a highly plugged-in and connected society. For every one person in Singapore, there are 1.5 phones2. Our total wireless broadband subscription is 8.1 million, some 1.5 times the size of our population3. While the statistics do not specifically show the participation of senior citizens, we know from anecdotal feedback that more and more seniors are embracing technology, compared to say 5 or 10 years ago, learning actively and picking up new skills.

3. For seniors who are unfamiliar with information and communications technology (or ICT), there are many opportunities for you to learn and to keep up to date with the latest developments. For example, this October, 15 ICT courses under the iBEGIN and iLIVE modules, conducted in English, Mandarin, Malay or Tamil, will be offered island-wide at tertiary campuses and appointed SIJs, providing greater convenience and accessibility to senior citizens. The courses at the SIJs are good and affordable (with charges as low as $5 to $10 an hour). Not surprisingly, the take-up has been very positive - over 54,000 training slots have been filled at these junctions. Some of the early trainees have even stepped forward as "teachers" to impart their infocomm knowledge to fellow senior citizens!

4. The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore or IDA has also introduced more courses to match the lifestyle trends and learning needs of our senior citizens. For instance, there is now a course that specifically introduces seniors to websites with information on health-related issues and tips as well as healthy lifestyle, an area which I am sure many are interested in. Seniors can also, through the courses, learn how to access various e-services, such as making medical appointments and enquiries online.

5. There are also new courses that teach senior citizens how to input Chinese characters, for example through Hanyu Pinyin and to introduce seniors to IT devices such as tablets and smart phones. I encourage all our senior citizens to participate in such courses and enhance your ICT skills to keep up with the digital age.

ICT Made Accessible

6. To further help our senior citizens adopt infocomm, I am pleased to announce that IDA is increasing the number of infocomm training locations and computer facilities dedicated to seniors. This year, we will see the appointment of the 13th and 14th Silver Infocomm Junctions at Woodlands Regional Library and Kampong Kembangan Community Club. The appointment of Woodlands Regional Library is also the first time IDA is collaborating with the National Library Board in the set-up of an SIJ.

7. At the same time, the number of Silver Infocomm Hotspots appointed has increased from 44 last year to the current 100 hotspots. This means that seniors now have more places to access computers and Internet services free-of-charge at convenient places such as Community Centres, Senior Citizen Connect areas or Clans and Society buildings.

Live Better Through ICT

8. There are many senior citizens who have embraced infocomm and used it to enhance their lives.

9. One example is Mr Victor Sim, aged 72. Mr Sim has attended many ICT courses ranging from digital photography management to social networking. He now leads an active digital lifestyle - he edits photographs, exchanges photography and travel tips online, shares his ICT experiences and connects with like-minded friends through e-mails and Facebook! Mr Sim also motivates his peers to learn and be engaged in an active digital lifestyle, and has set up a small IT group in Tong San Clan for ICT lessons to be conducted for senior citizens.

10. Another ICT advocate is Mdm Irene Boey, aged 52. Mdm Boey uses ICT to manage her busy schedule and maintain her work-life balance. She believes that no one should miss out on the benefits of ICT. Mdm Boey is so passionate about encouraging her peers that she donated computers to Cheng San Community Club to start a computer room and to motivate volunteers to run basic computer courses. To date, more than 200 seniors have been trained and I'm glad to see that some of the students have returned to become volunteer tutors to inspire others.

11. Mr Sim and Mdm Boey are inspiring role models. They are also our Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors - people who are IT-savvy, who are familiar with the latest internet applications like Facebook, Tango, Whatsapp, and who help to spread the benefits of ICT to their fellow citizens. Today, IDA and the People's Association would like to recognise our Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors who have inspired their peers to use technology actively. I look forward to seeing more senior citizens take on the role of Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors in their communities and promote the benefits of ICT to their peers!


12. The work of promoting ICT to our seniors cannot be done by MICA or IDA alone. We need partnerships with many stakeholders. So I would like to thank IDA and its partner organisers - Institute of Technical Education, Nanyang Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and the Silver Infocomm Junctions - for putting together the series of exciting programmes over the coming month. For seniors who enjoy digital photography, you will be pleased to know that IDA has partnered the Agency for Integrated Care and Centre for Enabled Living to organise a digital photography contest themed "DIY Solutions for Elderly". I encourage everyone to participate in the contest and showcase your creativity and digital photography skills!

13. ICT is transforming our society and lives in many ways. The Government remains committed in its efforts to build an inclusive digital society. I encourage all seniors to take full advantage of the opportunities provided to enrich your lifestyle and to forge stronger bonds with your family and friends through infocomm technology.

Notes to Editor

1 IDA's Silver Infocomm Initiative aims to bridge the digital divide among senior citizens aged 50 and above through addressing their differences in educational background, language and infocomm competencies.

2 IDA website (www.ida.gov.sg/Infocomm-Landscape/Facts-and-Figures/Telecommunications.aspx)

3 Source: Department of Statistics website (http://www.singstat.gov.sg/statistics/latest-data)

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023