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PC Re-use Scheme Brings IT Closer to the Community


The National Computer Board has initiated a nationwide PC Re-use Scheme in support of the Ministry of Environment's Clean and Green Week. The scheme, an extension of an on-going programme by the NCB since 1998, aims to provide 500 lower-income families...

The National Computer Board has initiated a nationwide PC Re-use Scheme in support of the Ministry of Environment's Clean and Green Week. The scheme, an extension of an on-going programme by the NCB since 1998, aims to provide 500 lower-income families with refurbished personal computers (PCs). The goal is to present everyone with ready opportunities to learn and apply IT skills in preparation of Singapore moving into a knowledge-based economy and information society.

The PC Re-use Scheme involves the collection of used PCs from the government departments, the private sector and members of the public. Self-help groups are also part of this multi-party effort. The Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) and Mendaki are providing their premises as collection centres for the used PCs. Other associations such as the IT Services Cooperative, Enable 2000 and Singapore Scouts Association (SSA) act as collection points as well. Public interested in donating their used PCs can approach these points of collection. The PCs collected will be refurbished by volunteers and distributed to needy families, also through these self-help groups. Some of these PCs will be given to welfare organisations, family service centres and halfway houses.

Volunteers from the IT Services Cooperative, AMP, Mendaki, Singapore ONE clubs, the Singapore Scout Association (SSA) and Enable 2000 will refurbish the PCs to support the Internet and basic word processing tools. Mr Lim Kin Chew, co-chairman of Enable 2000, a volunteer group which repairs old computers and distributes them to the disabled said, "Since 1994, we have donated many refurbished PCs to the disabled and helped to set up computer laboratories for the disabled schools and associations. It is good to be able to work closely with the NCB and the industry, as the stronger support given by the government and the private sector will enable more needy families to own PCs."

In addition to donating their own used PCs, Scouts will render technical services to upgrade used PCs donated by others. "We have a committed team of Scouts who come from various schools, the polytechnic and even the National University of Singapore. They will be deployed to work on the scheme throughout the year," said Mr Alex Choo, IT Commissioner of SSA.

The various self-help groups will select the recipients of the used PCs from households earning less than $1,500 per month. Mr Anil K Singh, CEO of the IT Services Cooperative said, "Besides a few pre-determined criteria, we are also looking at people who are motivated to come on board the Information Highway." Recipients will be encouraged to attend basic IT training conducted by the self-help groups themselves.

The PC Re-use Scheme is a continuation of an on-going programme by the NCB, but on a larger scale. Since 1998, the NCB has been facilitating the donation of used PCs from government departments to the community. To date, more than 700 households and non-profit organisations have benefited from this initiative (see Annex 1 for breakdown of recipients).

Mrs Pam Soh, Deputy Director of IT Culture Promotion of the NCB said, "No one should be deprived of the use of a computer. We plan to continue this mission with the aim of equipping all the needy and underprivileged with practical IT skills relevant for work and in learning."

"The NCB targets to benefit 2,000 needy households over the next 2 years. However, this figure is short of the 30,460 lower income households which aspire to own a PC, a figure estimated by the self-help groups collectively. The man in the street, the private sector and the government have a part to play by doing their bit for the society and the environment IT companies such as Dell, IBM and Creative Technology have pledged to donate used PCs. In addition, Dell and Microsoft are sponsoring towards this cause. Likewise, other companies should also come forward to join us in this scheme, and together, we should aim to reach the target over time," said Mrs Soh.

A 27-year-old resident of The Ashram Halfway House, who believes in the importance of a PC, said, "Nowadays without computer knowledge, it is quite difficult to live in this modern world because everything is being computerised. With these donated computers, I am given the opportunity to pick up computer skills and get a better job."