SINGAPORE – A new initiative by the South Central Community (SCC) Family Service Centre will help about 100 underprivileged families receive crucial digital access for work and study needs.

The initiative, which received funding from the President’s Challenge 2021 (PC2021), will enable SSC to provide beneficiaries with learning devices, Internet access and digital learning videos.

During a community visit to SSC on Thursday (April 22), President Halimah Yacob said the need for digital access for job search, household resources and schoolwork would grow exponentially even after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Madam Halimah said: “Whether you buy something online, look for jobs online or connect with family members, certainly (the importance of digital access) will grow and it will grow exponentially.

“Ensuring that members of our disadvantaged community have access to digital devices and digital knowledge is extremely crucial so that they are not excluded and they feel that they are part of the larger society.”

The initiative was conceived last year when SSC found that some low-income families were not equipped for home-based learning during the pandemic because they did not have the necessary electronic devices.

A spokesman for SCC said: “With 28.6 per cent of our families with children having no digital device access, this awakened a need to look deeper and bridge the emerging gaps present so that no one is left behind.”

By providing refurbished laptops and sustainable digital Internet and data plans, SSC hopes to help adults seek employment opportunities online and access financial assistance schemes and bursaries, as well as training resources for mental health and parenting.

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The initiative will also enable children to access home-based learning and educational resources.

One beneficiary, Ms Raja Letchumi Mariappan “Rani” said: “The pre-loved digital devices and resources helped me and family keep connected with loved ones via Zoom, and use telehealth to address the needs of a family member.”

Ms Rani, who runs a home-based catering business, added: ” It also helped with our children’s home-based learning and sustained my food catering through online platforms. I also use Excel to keep track of family expenditure with the skills I have learnt.”

With the changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, PC2021 is focusing on building a digitally inclusive society.

In a Facebook post after the event, Madam Halimah reiterated the importance of bridging the digital divide.

She said: “I am heartened to see that SCC is one of the many social service agencies that has paid attention to promoting digital inclusion of vulnerable groups in our society as it provided the needy families with the necessary hardware during the circuit-breaker last year and is continuing to do so this year, with funding from PC2021.

“I hope more social service agencies will come forward to bridge the digital divide among the disadvantaged groups in our society so that they too can keep up with changing times.”





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