Senior citizens embrace digital education programmesTuesday, September 14, 2021
Scores of seniors are among the thousands of Jamaicans now engaged in the Flow Foundation's Digital Education Programme. The programme is being administered through two initiatives – the Training for Professionals Programme in partnership with One on One Educational Services Ltd and the Skills for the Future Programme in partnership with the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD) at the Mona School of Business and Management. Both are online, free for participants and offer self-paced learning and certified courses.
Kayon Mitchell, Executive Director of the Flow Foundation was delighted at the participation of the seniors, stating, “We are committed to empowering each and every Jamaican through our digital inclusion programmes. It is very important to us that no one is left behind and it is for this reason, that Flow has invested millions in expanding our fibre network across the country - ensuring that as many Jamaicans as possible have access to the online space. At the Foundation, we have underwritten the cost of these digital education programmes as we seek to enable greater participation in the digital economy. It is really heartwarming that our seniors understand that they too need to get on board and have seized this training opportunity.”
Shirley Thurlow, a participant in the Training for Professionals Programme, could hardly wait to get started. Described by family members as “energetic and alert”, the 86-year-old who states that you can “never be too old to learn” will be pursuing the Exercise & Fitness course.
“When you get to my age, you learn that the important thing in life is a healthy body and mind. I keep my body healthy by working out at the gym. I keep my brain alert by using the computer…I am quite good at it too! I am looking forward to this training,” she said with a laugh in her voice.
Another participant, 60-year-old Charles Murdock believes that training is “important to improve one's livelihood” and is upskilling himself in his established field of Accounting. A self-employed accountant, Murdock networks through membership in several social clubs.
“In any field that you work, it is important to keep up to date in that area. Training and improving your skills is the way to do this. This course is an excellent opportunity for certification. I believe it will open doors for me to earn through networking with the other members in the programme,” he shared.
For Ricardo Allen, CEO of One On One Educational Services Ltd, “The advancement of the digital space has implications for all of us. I am happy that our seniors are recognizing the need to adapt and prepare themselves for a digital future and taking the opportunity to upskill themselves. I encourage each and every one of them to go for it. The sky is the limit, especially when it comes to education.”
Their counterparts in the Skills for the Future Programme, 63-year-old Douglas Schurton wanted “to increase his digital knowledge base to better navigate the current digital environment and to help others, who do not have the opportunity, to do the same.”
The retired father of three is determined to become more proficient in using the ever-changing technology and embracing the digital world.
“I am enjoying the interaction with the facilitator and the participants in my group, who are younger than I am. It allows me to understand their thinking and the challenges they face while living in this fast-paced world. I certainly would recommend the program to others, whether young or old, so they can be educated on how to use technology to conduct personal and business-related matters online,” he stated.
Similar sentiments were expressed by 66-year-old Janet Moulton. The retired mother and grandmother shared that while she has had to use a computer for many years on the job, there is still a lot that she does not know. Moulton said, “I am in the process of starting my own business. I want to learn how to manage data and do spreadsheets which is one of the reasons why this programme caught my attention. I have already finished the first module and I'm already working on the second. Also, knowing more about computers and using the Internet will definitely help me to succeed in my business venture.”
Dr Maurice McNaughton, Director of the Center of Innovation at the Mona School of Business & Management, commented “The digital platform has become the dominant mode of engagement - whether in commerce, social interaction, or economic activity. This means that digital literacy and data skills are critical for every member of our society whether young, old or physically challenged. It is very encouraging to see how many of our seniors have gotten on board with the CSOD community to become digitally literate.”
Mitchell also shared that through The Hive, done in partnership with Ingenuity Technologies Ltd, graduates of the Digital Education Programme have an opportunity to earn an income.
“We encourage our seniors to complete the training, get their certificate and join The Hive where income-generating opportunities await,” she said.
The Hive is the Caribbean's first freelancer jobs marketplace where freelancers, entrepreneurs and agencies are paired with employers globally.
The Digital Education Programme is one of the many ways that the Flow Foundation is driving digital inclusion to enable the progress of all Jamaicans. For the past several years, the Foundation has hosted special online safety and digital enablement sessions for senior citizens under its Safer Internet Week of activities. The most recent session which focused on online safety tips and banking may be found on Flow Jamaica's YouTube channel.