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More than 210,000 seniors joined programme to develop digital literacy and skills

More than 210,000 seniors joined programme to develop digital literacy and skills

SG Digital ambassadors helping seniors with their phones. (Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh)

SINGAPORE: More than 210,000 seniors have joined a programme to help them develop digital literacy since 2020, said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo on Wednesday (Nov 30). 

She was responding to a parliamentary question from MP Lim Biow Chuan (PAP-Mountbatten) about how the Government helps residents who are not digitally literate and how it communicates with residents who do not have email. 

"The Government fully recognises that not everyone is comfortable using digital tools," said the minister, noting that under the Seniors Go Digital programme, residents can visit SG Digital community hubs at selected libraries and community centres to receive one-to-one or small group training on digital skills.

This could include cybersecurity tips on how to stay safe online, as well as how to use a smartphone or make e-payments, she added. 

Many agencies also provide in-person and contact centre services to help those who might have difficulties with online government services, said Mrs Teo.

“The Public Service has also set up five ServiceSG Centres to serve as one-stop physical touchpoints where officers can guide residents through digital transactions and help them complete frequently used government services across 20 agencies,” she added. 

Offline channels “remain critical” for the Government to communicate with residents who are less digitally savvy, said Mrs Teo, noting that the use of digital communication channels has increased. 

“On top of newspaper publications and broadcasts via free-to-air television and radio, many government agencies inform residents of key policy announcements through hardcopy letters, via the digital display panels at HDB blocks and even through house visits,” she added. 

For example, the Silver Generation Office reaches out to residents to communicate government policies and guide seniors in applying for digital assistance schemes online. 

“Even as more services digitalise, the Government remains committed to maintaining an inclusive society and will continue to ensure that residents can communicate and transact with the Government, regardless of their digital ability," she said.

In a supplementary question, Mr Lim raised the example of a resident who found it difficult to file a complaint online with the Community Dispute Resolution Centre.

"What can a resident who is senior, not literate, and who is unable to understand and navigate how to go about applying for government services, what can they do in situations like that?" he added. 

"Because he tried to go to court and the services rendered were not quite there, and he's left struggling." 

Mrs Teo advised Mr Lim to encourage his resident to call a Service SG centre, or seek help at the 38 community centres that offer similar assistance. 

Mr Dennis Tan (WP-Hougang) also raised a similar case and suggested that the Ministry of Communications and Information can work with the courts on how to help such residents. 

Noting that this was a good suggestion, Mrs Teo said: "Over time I think we see that fewer and fewer of our citizens need to rely on those non-digital options. 

"But we will obviously have to keep those non-digital options available until such time that most if not all of these citizens can migrate to the digital versions." 

Source: CNA/hw(gs)

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