Never retire from learning

SARA Goh may have retired from her job in the field of information systems, but she has no plans to retire from learning.

The 58-year-old, who retired in 2019, is adamant to remain mentally active. She envisions a life full of learning opportunities and activities to keep herself occupied.

“I’ve always wanted to learn many things, but did not have time to do so when I was working. Now, I can spend more time pursuing my interests. I can’t be sitting at home doing nothing!” Sara said.

When she received an email from the Council for Third Age inviting her to the National Silver Academy (NSA) online roadshow held from July to August 2020, it sparked her interest and she promptly confirmed her attendance.

Themed LIFE, the annual roadshow was held online for the first time due to COVID-19. It offered an array of learning and volunteering opportunities at subsidised rates for seniors aged 50 and above.

Two NSA online bite-sized courses caught Sara’s attention – ‘Workshop on Starting A Home Business (Online)’ by the Institute of Technical Education and ‘Japanese Nagomi Pastel Art – An Introduction (Online)’ by Family Central.

The former was a three-hour course conducted via Zoom (an online video-conferencing platform) on 24 August, and covered the basics of starting a home business.

Sara said: “Running an online business is very common nowadays and I wondered if it is something I could do after my retirement.”

Besides gleaning insights into launching and maintaining an online business, Sara also learnt about the legal requirements of running one.

“The instructor shared many real-life examples with us. I enjoyed the workshop as it was very informational,” she said.

The avid learner found herself logging in to Zoom again two days later – this time for a three-hour online class on Nagomi pastel art, a Japanese art form which uses soft pastels and artists create artworks by blending the colours with their fingers.

Sara was pleasantly surprised when the class proved effective and exceeded her expectations.  

“I was hesitant as I thought that it would be challenging to follow the instructor and learn the techniques via Zoom. However, the cameras were angled such that I had a clear view of the instructor’s movements. She could even answer the questions we submitted via the chat box!” she recalled.

Unlike many less digitally-savvy individuals who struggled to master the art of using Zoom, Sara took to the platform like a duck to water, thanks to her 16-year-old daughter.

“I told her ‘You Zoom me, I Zoom you!’ So we practised video-conferencing each other on separate laptops even though we were seated beside each other. It was quite easy,” the mother-of-three shared with a laugh.

Now a Zoom convert, Sara is quick to laud the platform for its convenience. The bubbly senior is glad that it helps her save travelling time and transport costs, and appreciates that she can learn from the comfort and safety of her home during a pandemic. She does, however, acknowledge its disadvantage – it is harder to make friends online.

“In the past, I could stay back after my classes to chit-chat with the participants and make new friends. It is harder to do so when attending an online class,” she admitted.

As Singapore gradually moves towards Phase 3, further easing its COVID-19 restrictions, Sara is excited to sign up for new in-person classes and befriend others with similar interests. The first class on her list? Baking.

She said: “Learning spices up my life. It also helps me improve myself and stay updated. It’s never too late to start learning something new.”

Besides acquiring new knowledge, the IT-savvy senior also spends her time running her household, baking and watching Korean dramas.

With a laugh, she added: “People usually think that I am very free after retiring… but they will be surprised to learn that I am actually very busy!

About National Silver Academy (NSA)

  • NSA is a network of post-secondary education institutions and community-based organisations, offering a wide range of learning opportunities to seniors aged 50 and above. It is administered by the Council for Third Age (C3A), an agency that promotes active ageing in Singapore.
  • Eligible seniors can enjoy subsidies when taking short courses under the NSA.
  • Singaporean seniors who wish to participate in exam-free modules at the post-secondary education institutions only need to pay a token fee.
  • Seniors can also use their SkillsFuture Credit to defray the out-of-pocket cost for most NSA courses.
  • For more information on NSA courses, visit or call the NSA hotline at 6478 5029 (Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm, excluding public holidays).

Article published on: 19/10/2020