Education for the elderly

Who is to deal with the provision of
education for the elderly?


was the issue under discussion by gerontology professionals and NGO
representatives at a round table on ‘New Technologies for Educating People of
the “Third Age” ’ which took place in the Peoples’ Chamber of the Russian


head of the Institute of Sociology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Grigory
Klyucharev, said that educating the elderly would help to mobilise their
potential in the interests of society. ‘The “third age”,’ he observed, ‘is a
special period in a person’s life which begins during the pre-retirement phase
and lasts about fifteen years. During this time a person is not dependent on
outside help and their potential is sizeable. This means that education in the
‘third age’ has real significance.‘ The more problems crop up in a person’s
life, the more learning opportunities present themselves. It is just that the
elderly learn at a different speed and by different methods to the young. Mr
Klyucharev also expressed the view that ‘It was essential to choose an
environment in which the elderly would feel comfortable for the educational
process to be at its most effective.’ As a rule the work that they did during
their career came to an end when they retired. He said that was why the aims of
‘third age‘ education were characterised by new needs linked to the change of
social status. The main functions of education for the elderly were to deal
with the problems posed by poverty and loneliness, to structure the time that
becomes available and to achieve inter-generational dialogue. At present, it
was the NGOs that took on the main role in educating the older generation.


Konolygina, chair of the board of the Orlov regional communal organisation,
Knowledge, said her colleagues estimated that there were over 150 sites spread
over half the administrative areas in Russia catering for the education of the
elderly. For example, the People’s University of the Golden Age was functioning
in the Orlov region with a network of branches in the villages. In Kursk a
similar institution had opened also with a network of branches. The programmes
most in demand were concerned with maintaining good health and training the
memory. ‘The elderly do manage to learn IT and foreign languages, as well as
grasping the basics of economics, law and politics. Young people are attracted
to the teaching.’ she observed. But she added that if education was to be
developed for people of the third age, then the state needed to develop a
corresponding concept.  ‘Services for
the elderly are being created and an institute is being set up for social
workers specialising in the area of gerontology. However, what the social
services do is basically of a caring nature not really directed to fostering
the potential of people of the third age‘ said Ms Konolygina. She thought that
the NGOs should pay special attention to developing educational methods for
helping the elderly apply their energy to solving their problems.


participants have drawn up recommendations to government bodies stemming from
the proceedings at the round table. They think that the Russian government
should finance educational projects for people of the ‘third age’ and also work
up a targeted federal programme based on the appropriate educational and
cultural institutions and the NGOs, involving students, advanced education
teachers and volunteers. Furthermore, they took the view that it was essential
to create a class of NGOs in Russia that would specialise in dealing with issues
concerning the education of the elderly.

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