December 9, 2009

SINGAPORE: Never too old to go back to school

. SINGAPORE / The Straits Times - AsiaOne / Education / December 9, 2009 Lifelong-learning course graduates received their certificates at Singapore Polytechnic. -The Straits Times By Tessa Wong DONNING mortarboards and black and orange robes, 200 senior citizens took to the stage yesterday at Singapore Polytechnic's Convention Centre to receive their graduation certificates. They had completed a course on lifelong learning by the Yah! Community College, a project encouraging active ageing. Yah stands for Young At Heart. The ceremony also marked the fifth year of the project, which is run by the Marine Parade Family Service Centre. So far, more than 1,000 senior citizens have attended classes on how to use new technology, communicate with others, and take care of one's health. Among them was retiree Chong Sook Lan, 70. 'Before taking this course, I was scared that I was too old to learn. But now I can send text messages to my friends in hanyu pinyin,' she said. The course, conducted in Mandarin, is targeted mainly at local Mandarin speakers aged 50 and above. But that has not stopped others from joining in, including two English-educated retirees who joined to polish up their Mandarin, and a new immigrant from China who signed up to make friends with locals. Guest of honour Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, applauded such efforts by senior citizens to improve themselves in their old age. 'We must have a positive attitude in our lives. As long as you're good in something, I'm sure you can add value to society,' said Mrs Yu-Foo, 59. The MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC also urged those present to help their peers, referring to the newly launched 'neighbourhood circle' project in her constituency. The project has garnered about 200 volunteers who help to look out for the elderly and assist them with everyday tasks like carrying groceries. There is also a reading club and visits to wellness centres which have gyms and activities such as games and arts and crafts catering to the elderly. [rc] Copyright ©2007 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.