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Donnerstag, 15.04.2021
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Kudos to the government and all stakeholders for ensuring that no students are left behind, “All in favour of making digital learning a success” (The Star, March 8).

However, there is a group that is definitely at risk of being completely left behind. I am referring to our warga emas, especially those in their 70s and above. If we do not reach out to them, they will not be able to participate actively when the economy starts to pick up again.

While they are still struggling to learn how to use apps on their smartphone, the government is already talking about rolling out 5G infrastructure by the end of the year, and urban authorities and town councils seem to be scrambling for smart city status.

All fine and good, but we need to reach out to our older citizens and help them get on the digital literacy programme. Many of the elderly live alone or have adult children who are often too busy to teach them.

More and more services are going online – banking, shopping, tax filing, payment of bills, ordering food, booking a ride, making reservations and so forth. Food outlets and retail shops are already going cashless with e-wallets.

Right now, the government is encouraging the public to register for their Covid-19 vaccination via the MySejahtera app. Phase 2 of the national vaccination programme for the high-risk groups of senior citizens aged 65 and above begins next month. There are close to 10 million in this age group. One wonders how many of the elderly would know how to register for vaccination. Fortunately, they can register at clinics and hospitals, but it would be more convenient for them if they knew how to do it via the app.

It is high time we set up an IT institute or academy where senior citizens can enrol for short courses to learn about various e-services, social media, apps and even coding. They could also learn entrepreneurial skills, including digital marketing and website designing, and fun stuff like creating videos, designing posters or starting a blog. Seniors learn differently from younger people. They learn new skills best at a slower pace and feel more at ease learning with their peers.

Many retirees and pensioners in their 60s are still capable of learning and working. With life expectancy at 76, they still have many good years in them to contribute to the economy and nation-building. Besides, being socially connected online would also ward off loneliness.

We call on the government and private sector to provide opportunities for our seniors to learn digital and entrepreneurial skills so that they can remain productive, independent and self-supporting. This ultimately translates into less dependence on their adult children for financial support and on the government for welfare aid.

So, while the country forges ahead at building a 5G digital ecosystem, spare a thought for our warga emas.

SENIORS ALOUD , Ampang

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Quelle/Source: The Star, 13.03.2021

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