Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, at the Opening Ceremony of “Time Of Your Life – Learning Journeys For The 50plus”

Madam Chua Foo Yong, Chairman, Council for Third Age

Mrs Elaine Ng, Chief Executive Officer, National Library Board

Ladies and Gentlemen


Good morning.

2.         I am happy to join you here at the opening ceremony of “Time of Your Life – Learning Journeys for the 50plus” jointly organised by the Council for Third Age (C3A) and National Library Board (NLB).

3.         We have in the audience today some 200 graduands of C3A’s gerontology course, “I’m Senior and I’m Loving it!”. You are an inspiration to us all. You exemplify the spirit of lifelong learning, and you show younger Singaporeans that age does not matter in the pursuit of knowledge. 

Active Ageing and Lifelong Learning

4.         By 2030, one in five Singaporeans will be above the age of 65.  However, if our seniors here are anything to go by, I am optimistic that the Singapore society in 2030 will remain as dynamic, as vibrant and as exciting, despite our population being chronologically older.

5.         The government is planning ahead to help Singaporeans age happily, confidently and healthily in a Nation for All Ages. The Ministerial Committee on Ageing is embarking on an Action Plan to prepare Singapore for an ageing population. The Action Plan will cover seven diverse areas – lifelong learning for seniors, employment, volunteerism, urban infrastructure, healthcare, retirement adequacy and research into ageing.

6.         As part of our effort to develop the Action Plan, we have also launched a series of public consultations to seek feedback on policies and initiatives related to ageing. To date, we have consulted more than 500 people, and held 27 focus group discussions.

7.         We have heard from the participants on their aspirations and ideas on a wide range of topics that are critical for successful ageing. Seniors tell us that they like to continue to learn new things even after they retire, because learning gives new meaning to their lives, and allows them to keep pace with society’s changes. In fact, one senior proudly showed us how she was learning to make rainbow loom bracelets, from younger people!   Many seniors also provided feedback that they wish that there will be more opportunities to learn, including in the heartlands, and that learning will be made more accessible, such as through the use of the internet.

8.            The Ministerial Committee on Ageing has also received numerous suggestions from members of the public, on a range of issues relating to ageing, such as how to enable lifelong employment, how to promote senior volunteerism, how to make available new housing options and how to make our city more senior friendly.  The Committee will be working with the relevant agencies to review these suggestions.

9.            We would like to continue receiving feedback from members of the public on what successful ageing means to you. We have created a “wishing tree” that is part of the roving exhibition in this festival. The “wishing tree” is for members of the public to pen down what successful ageing means to them, or what they hope for in terms of lifelong learning, social engagement, health and wellness, and lifelong employability. Through the “wishing tree”, we hope to obtain more suggestions from Singaporeans on how we can jointly build a Nation for All Ages.

Reading to keep an Active Mind

10.         Both NLB and C3A have been outstanding champions of senior learning.

11.         I am heartened that NLB started its Seniors’ Reading Initiatives in 2012 to encourage seniors to rediscover the joy of reading. As part of this initiative, NLB developed special reading kits and intergenerational reading cards for those above 50 years old. There has been positive feedback on these initiatives, and seniors found the book reviews and recommended reads useful. They also appreciated books with large printed words that make reading easier.  NLB is also partnering with community organisations to set up book clubs and reading corners to promote reading and make books more accessible to our seniors.

12.         NLB has also worked with the Infocomm Development Authority to better serve our seniors. For example, the Silver Infocomm Junction at Woodlands Regional Library and Silver Infocomm Hotspots in libraries around the island have been set up to help seniors pick up IT knowledge and skills. Since 2012, close to 270,000 seniors have benefited from these programmes.

13.         On its part, C3A has been helping seniors to understand more on their own ageing process and to continue their pursuit of knowledge. Many of you here are beneficiaries of the “I’m Senior and I’m Loving It” social gerontology programme that covers the physical, psychological and social aspects of ageing. C3A also promotes Intergenerational Learning, which brings the young and old to learn together. 

Time of Your Life – Learning Journeys for 50plus

14.         I am happy that NLB and C3A have joined hands to organise this festival for our seniors. This initiative is a good platform to create greater awareness of lifelong learning opportunities for seniors and to provide them avenues to pick up new skills and discover new interests.

15.         Seniors can visit a special roving exhibition, titled “Curious Minds, Vibrant Lives”, as well as participate in more than 35 talks and workshops during this festival, to understand more about their learning style, socialise with their friends and engage in interactive games to exercise their minds.


16.         I would like to thank C3A and NLB for organising this meaningful festival and for planning such an exciting line-up of programmes. I would also like to thank the volunteers who have spared their time and effort to help out at the various programmes and activities. It sets an example for how we can make Singapore a caring society for our seniors.

17.         And finally, to all our seniors here, thank you for attending the Opening Ceremony today. I hope that you will enjoy the programmes and continue to stay active in your own learning journey.  Have a good time, and I wish you the best of health and happiness.

Thank you.


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