Mr Kwok Wui San, Chairman, Council for Third Age
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you for the launch of the refreshed C3A website. Today is also the inaugural appreciation event to celebrate our avid senior learners and partners who displayed adaptability in embracing digitalisation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keeping Seniors Active through Lifelong Learning
2. The Action Plan for Successful Ageing was launched by the Ministerial Committee for Ageing in 2015 to help Singaporeans lead active lives and age well with confidence. Learning is one of the focal areas under the Action Plan in supporting our seniors’ aspirations to stay engaged and connected.
3. The Council of Third Age (C3A) is an instrumental partner of the Ministry of Health’s in our efforts to promote active ageing among our seniors through public education, outreach and partnerships. Through its flagship initiative, the National Silver Academy (NSA), C3A sought to augment the senior learning landscape by enhancing access to learning opportunities. C3A also encourages broad-based participation from all socio-economic segments and educational levels. Each year, NSA offers more than 1,000 courses comprising a wide range of topics including financial planning, health and wellness, as well as technology, to cater to the varied interests and needs of seniors.
4. The refreshed website will provide a more seamless experience, with an interactive self-assessment tool to provide personalised analysis on learning needs and an advanced search filter for easy navigation. Seniors will be able to easily access a wide range of learning and volunteering opportunities, as well as other curated resources on active ageing via the one-stop platform.
Encouraging Digitalisation for Senior Learning
5. As we accelerate towards a digital future as a nation, it is important to ensure that no one is left behind. C3A has ramped up its range of courses and resources on IT skills tailored to address our seniors’ learning needs and preferences. For example, to help acquaint seniors who may be new to the digitalisation journey, C3A has produced bite-sized videos to help get them started. In addition, C3A has partnered Udemy and Coursera to offer online learning options to complement existing courses that were previously primarily delivered in-person.
6. The backdrop of the global pandemic has also reinforced the need for adoption of digital solutions, as we increasingly shift towards online platforms for services delivery during this period. To minimise disruptions to our seniors’ learning journeys, C3A worked closely with its partners to pivot online to allow our seniors to stay meaningfully engaged in a safe manner. The number of seniors adopting online learning through NSA saw an increase by over 30% in the past year. It is heartening to know that more seniors have developed increased receptivity to digital initiatives amidst the COVID-19 situation, and this is a reflection of the adaptability of our seniors.
7. One example is Mdm Sim, a 77-year-old retiree who volunteers at Fei Yue Community Services. An avid learner, Mdm Sim continued to pursue learning via online means when restrictions on in-person activities were tightened. She attended a variety of online classes to improve her communication skills when interacting with seniors as a befriender. Empowered with her newly-gained skills and knowledge, Mdm Sim is now more confident in her ability to support others as a befriender.
8. It is our hope that more seniors will leverage this refreshed website and its enhanced features to seek out learning opportunities that meet their unique interests and preferences.
9. To chart the way forward for active ageing, our plans must continue to adapt to the changing landscape. I would like to take this opportunity to thank C3A for taking the lead in pivoting online and building capabilities within your organization, as well as working with NSA partners to onboard the digital wave. In our journey to embrace digitalisation, we hope to continue to work closely with partners like C3A, and the many course developers under the NSA, to make learning inclusive for all senior learners.