National movement launched to encourage digitalization, President's Challenge to provide $2.5 million in seed funding


Madam Halimah, who is the patron for the movement, said the pandemic threatens to widen the digital divide

A fund has been set up as part of a new national movement to equip all Singaporeans with digital skills and help bridge the digital divide.

The Digital for Life movement and fund was launched by President Halimah Yacob on Monday (Feb 8). It will have $2.5 million in seed funding, provided by the President’s Challenge, and is targeted to grow to $10 million over the next three years, for use in community-initiated projects which encourage people to adopt digital technology.

The fund, which is set up by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, will also support activities that promote good digital habits, such as in the areas of cyber safety and media literacy. The Community Chest will help facilitate community contributions towards this fund, with the Government matching donations dollar-for-dollar.

Madam Halimah, who is the patron for the movement, said the pandemic threatens to widen the digital divide, even as it has hastens digitalisation efforts with businesses moving online and more using digital solutions like e-payments or video-conferencing tools.Those who are unfamiliar with technological tools, or have no access to them, will face challenges in their "digitalisation journey", she added. People can also be endangered if they do not know how to identify or mitigate the risks present in the digital domain."As the digital landscape changes rapidly, we need the entire community to come together to build and strengthen our digital resilience."To do so, we need to understand and collectively address the digital needs of different segments of our society," said Madam Halimah, who announced the Digital for Life movement at the launch of this year's President's Challenge.The event was held at NTUC Health's Senior Activity Centre in Taman Jurong.

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, who also attended the event, said he hopes the movement will help to raise awareness of the various digitalisation programmes and initiatives, such as the Seniors Go Digital programme, which has helped over 60,000 seniors learn to tap e-payment methods.

This year’s President’s Challenge will focus on building a digitally inclusive society, said Madam Halimah.It will also raise funds for a record total of 92 agencies, to help the vulnerable tide through the difficult times caused by the ongoing pandemic.

The money will go towards agencies such as not-for-profit organisation Touch Community Services, which has a programme to help low-income families use digital technology effectively.

Other agencies which will receive support from this year’s President’s Challenge include Food from the heart, Lutheran Community Care Services, and Montford Care.In her speech, Madam Halimah warned that the year ahead will continue to be a challenging one, as the virus is still a threat globally and economic headwinds will likely persist in the near term.“As we forge ahead, let us not forget those who are most vulnerable amongst us.”

From Cara Wong (The Straits Times)

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