In his Opening
Remarks at Tech Saturday, Minister Iswaran highlighted the importance of digital
“We all know that technology has a major impact on our
lives, and it is creating many opportunities for all of us, to connect with
each other and to also enhance our lives. But we also know that there are
segments of our community who – either because they are not familiar, or because
they do not have access to the technology – may not be able to fully
participate in technological change and enjoy the benefits that it can bring,”
According to Minister Iswaran, the true measure of a nation
is not just how vibrant or strong the country’s economy is but also how it cares
for citizens in the society, in particular, how the Government provide the
services that are necessary to those who are in need.
“In the digital age, all nations face the challenge of a new
divide – between the digital haves and digital have-nots. Digitalisation will
have a profound impact on our quality of life – our access to opportunities,
our ability to engage in social networking and in terms of the services that we
can enjoy. So, we want to ensure that no one is left behind in this
digital transition. We want to ensure that every Singaporean has the means,
skills and the confidence to embrace digital technology to improve their lives,”
Minister Iswaran’s comment on digital readiness echoes President Halimah Yacob’s
emphasis on building a cohesive, caring and inclusive society is a key priority
of the Singapore Government.
To bridge the digital divide and promote digital inclusion, the
Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) convened the Digital Readiness
Workgroup last year to examine how the Government can help Singaporeans to be
more digitally ready.
On 2 June, the Workgroup’s Digital Readiness Blueprint was launched. The
document contains strategies and recommendations that will enable Singaporeans
to thrive in a Smart Nation. The Blueprint also contains specific
recommendations to help the digitally vulnerable, the general public, as well
as businesses and other organisations.
The guiding principles of Digital Readiness Blueprint
include: (1) the need for the human touch in the digital world, (2) the need to
develop deep partnerships and collaborations between businesses, the community,
and the government, and (3) the need to ensure digital readiness initiatives
meet the needs and provide increased convenience for all Singaporeans.
To help those who are less digitally-savvy, the Workgroup has recommended
making basic digital access more widespread, providing one-on-one assistance
for digital queries, and identifying a set of Basic Digital Skills as a
IMDA has developed a curriculum for basic digital skills and
will be offering this at selected Silver
Infocomm Junctions. These skills include communicating,
transacting and staying safe online. The first round of workshops based
on the curriculum will be conducted at the Silver IT Fest from 22 to 24 June
MCI and IMDA are also working with the Smart Nation and Digital Government
Office, GovTech and the People’s Association to have dedicated one-on-one
assistance at community touch points, to reach out to Singaporeans who might
need help to learn and use technology. The Government will be piloting this
at some community centres in the latter half of the year.
“In the longer term, we hope to make this service available
at many more community touchpoints. It needs to be ubiquitous like the
Internet, if we have to make an impact in people’s lives and lifestyles,” said
Minister also shared that MCI is also studying the recommendation to provide
widespread basic digital access carefully, with a view to defining the scope,
identifying the people who might be more in need of a basic access package, and
how best to meet their needs.
“The blueprint is relevant not just for vulnerable groups,
but also considers the needs of the wider community,” he said.
The Workgroup has recommended stepping up efforts in
information and media literacy, especially given the increasing problem of
deliberate online falsehoods and scams.
To this end, MCI is working on a national
information and media literacy framework, pulling together the good work that
is already being done in raising awareness and educating the public. These
include the Media Literacy Council’s
Better Internet Campaign, the National Library Board’s S.U.R.E. programme,
and the Cyber
Security Agency’s Go Safe Online.
Acknowledging that businesses and community organisations also have a big role
to play in building digital readiness, another recommendation is to establish a
Digital Participation Pledge, where organisations commit to building digitally
inclusive services, and equipping their employees with digital skills. Those
that are more advanced can educate their customers and support wider
digitalisation efforts in our society.
“Ultimately, the heart of every nation is our people. And we want to
ensure that all Singaporeans can thrive and lead fulfilling lives in a digital
era, using technology as a critical enabler,” Minister Iswaran concluded.