"Supporting Beneficiaries as they Reintegrate into a Digital Society”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. A very good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for inviting me to launch the ISCOS Mobile App and the ‘Give A Line, Change A Life’ project.
2. This is my second time at an ISCOS event. I want to especially commend ISCOS for the good work it has done in supporting ex-offenders and their family members.
3. ISCOS reaches out to a group of 800 to 1,000 ex-offenders every year, and provides a range of support for their beneficiaries. The work that it does ranges from offering career advice and upskilling opportunities, to caring for the families and dependents of their beneficiaries.
Reintegrating Ex-Offenders through Technology
4. Familiarity with digital technology is now an essential part of reintegration into society. We not only use digital technology to communicate with one another, but also to search for information and access online resources. Increasingly, we will also need to use digital technologies to make online payments, and access Government services.
5. Many of you in the audience today have spent months, or even years apart from your families and friends. Some of you may have returned to find them using new apps or tinkering with new devices that you may be unfamiliar with, while others may already be comfortable using digital technology.
6. Wherever you may be at your digital journey, it can still feel somewhat overwhelming to sieve through the abundance of information that is now easily available online to find the resources that suit your needs.
Various Pillars of Support for Reintegration into a Digital Society
7. When I was first introduced to ISCOS, one of its programmes that most impressed me was Project ReConnect. This orientation programme teaches beneficiaries digital skills through weekly, hands-on sessions.
8. These sessions help to acquaint beneficiaries with new technologies, and allow them to practice applying technology in their daily lives – from making e-payments and connecting to Wi-Fi, to using the self-service kiosks at FairPrice supermarkets.
9. ISCOS has now taken its efforts one step further by introducing the ISCOS Mobile App. The app is a one-stop portal that provides access to key resources, including information on training and employment programmes, support groups, and education grants for the children of beneficiaries. This mobile app is a good example of how we can take simple steps to close that knowledge gap — so that technology does not divide, but enriches us.
10. In addition to the mobile app, today also marks the start of the ‘Give A Line, Change A Life’ project. This initiative invites sponsors to donate smart phones and mobile plans to beneficiaries and their families, which helps to defray the costs of going online. In doing so, this initiative has helped to empower beneficiaries by providing a means for them to access the opportunities and resources available in the digital world.
11. Together, these three initiatives by ISCOS form pillars of support for beneficiaries in their journey to reintegrate into our digital society. They provide beneficiaries with the access and skills needed to become familiar with using digital applications in their daily lives, and this includes various ways for them to re-connect with their friends and families.
The Importance of Partnerships for Digital Inclusion
12. I would like to thank the sponsors who have made this possible. Companies such as Food Empire Holdings Limited and Zero1 have generously contributed smartphones pre-loaded with data to the participants of Project ReConnect, allowing them to continue their learning even after the programme ends.
13. As employers and community groups, many of you are also well-positioned to contribute your skills and resources. I want to take this opportunity to encourage more organisations and companies to step up as sponsors of this meaningful project.
14. This ground-up initiative is also an outstanding example of how people from private and public sector organisations can come together. I hope that we will see more of such collaborations, as we work towards building a truly inclusive society in Singapore that we can all be proud of.
15. Finally, to the beneficiaries here today: In a while, many of you will receive new smartphones, which you can use in Project ReConnect.
16. Let me encourage you to take full advantage of this opportunity – to learn, to experiment and to confidently use technology to realise your full potential. As you become more familiar with technology, I hope that you will also step up as advocates, and pass these skills on to others around you, even after the programme ends.
17. I wish you every success in your next chapter, and look forward to seeing you acquire new skills and contribute positively to society.
18. Thank you very much.