Mr Kwok Wui San, Chairman, Council for Third Age
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you today to celebrate the launch of Singapore’s first ever geragogy guidelines by the Council for Third Age (C3A).
Embracing Longevity through Active Ageing and Lifelong Learning
2. In 2015, the Action Plan for Successful Ageing was launched by the Ministerial Committee for Ageing to help Singaporeans lead active lives, age confidently, and build strong bonds with family and community. When we were developing the Action Plan, we gathered ideas from Singaporeans on what successful ageing means to them. Seniors shared with us that they wanted to continue learning during their golden years, not only for work but also for learning’s sake to keep their minds active. Many seniors also told us that they did not have the chance to have a proper education when they were younger, and so now that they have time and are able to, they would like to go back to school.
3. The Ministry of Health (MOH) therefore worked with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and C3A to launch the National Silver Academy (NSA) in 2016. The NSA is a network of post-secondary education institutions and community-based organisations that offer subsidised learning opportunities for seniors. The NSA now has a network of some 46 course providers offering more than 1,000 courses each year, on a wide range of topics such as gerontology, the arts, health and wellness, as well as IT. To date, more than 60,000 learning places have been taken up.
Charting the Way Forward for Senior Learning and Teaching
4. Over five years have passed since the Action Plan for Successful Ageing was first launched, and MOH is embarking on a refresh of the Action Plan, to ensure that our blueprint for ageing planning continues to be relevant to the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s seniors. Lifelong learning will continue to be a key focal area going forward, as we seek to empower seniors to continue contributing their knowledge and expertise, and support them in staying connected to the community.
5. Over the past year, C3A has done much to ensure that seniors can continue to pursue learning safely despite the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, C3A launched the e-Nuggets Series, which consists of weekly talks hosted live on Facebook earlier last year in a bid to keep seniors physically and mentally engaged when most of them stayed at home. These virtual talks provide light-hearted and bite-sized e-learning for seniors and received over 100,000 views cumulatively last year. C3A is also working with partners in rolling out new modalities of online courses to support tech-savvy seniors who wish to leverage digital platforms to learn on-the-go.
6. Beyond improving access, C3A has also been working to enhance seniors’ learning experience. For example, C3A regularly reviews the NSA course offerings to ensure that our seniors have a wide variety of interesting and affordable courses to choose from. With the launch of the new gerogogy guidelines, C3A has taken another important step towards enriching the learning experience for seniors.
7. As Mr Kwok has shared earlier, the geragogy guidelines focus on three areas: i) to help trainers understand the learning preferences of senior learners; ii) to guide trainers in adopting effective training methods; and iii) to provide insights on trainers’ characteristics that are preferred by seniors. With these guidelines, trainers can adapt their delivery format, and communication and teaching style to create a more enriching and fruitful learning experience for our seniors.
8. I would like to thank C3A for taking the lead in working with various partners to develop these guidelines. I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage training partners and providers in senior learning to adopt the geragogy guidelines in your curriculum planning and course design. With more learning opportunities tailored to their needs, seniors will be encouraged to participate and enjoy the benefits of learning to age well.
9. In our journey to promote senior learning, we hope to foster a more conducive learning environment and to make learning inclusive for all senior learners, so that they can lead active and meaningful silver years. I hope C3A will continue to keep up the good work in promoting active ageing in Singapore and helping our seniors stay socially and mentally engaged. Thank you.