Information was gathered through an interview with Mrs. Psaila who is the coordinator of all Day Centres in Malta. The introduction of Day Centres in Malta, turned out to be an excellent scheme which can quickly reach a large number of elderly people. Since being introduced in 1995, there are now fourteen Day Centres around Malta. In 2004 the number of members from all Day Centres around Malta amounted to 1300. Mrs. Psaila pointed out that the main purpose of the Day Centre Service is to help elderly people make new friends, and to prevent social isolation.
It also aims to motivate the elderly by encouraging them to participate in the planning of Day Centre activities. Therefore they try to help elderly people be as independent as possible thus relieving their relatives. The fourteen Day Centres situated around Malta organize the following main activities, physical education, social and creative activities. These activities are complemented by educational talks on topics of particular relevance to older adults, such as health issues, home safety, welfare services, etc. In addition, outdoor activities are also organised twice monthly including the popular morning coffees.
Mrs. Psaila pointed out that she tries to organize once in a while some cultural outing such as visiting historical places. Day Centres also promote intergenerational activities by inviting students to share experiences with older adults. Even though Day Centres do not teach any type of academic subjects, these are still a valuable resource when it comes to elderly education. Given the opportunity to learn some crafts like glass painting is still educational and the educational talks are surely of great importance to the elderly.
Mrs.Psaila positively stated that the elderly attending the day centres are very willing to learn. As R. I. Rees nicely said “[… ] education is a continuous process ending only when ambition come to a halt. ” Apart from the above, day centres offer a great opportunity to elderly people to participate in sports. I believe that this is the only institute, which offers some sort of physical education to elderly people. From an article published on the newsletter Il-Mument it was clearly shown that the elderly were very wiling to participate either as competitors or supporters.
As parliamentary secretary Helen D’Amato clearly noted, this is a very important event since it teaches elderly people the importance of sports at their age. Another type of education, which takes place at the Day Centres, is Maltese Poetry. Mrs. Psaila told me that there are many members who love writing poems, which then they very willing to share with their friends. It is my opinion that this is a good example of how elderly education can take place by simply gathering a group of seniors.
Also, while discussing the above point Mrs. Psaila pointed out that there was a particular member who attended ICT lessons offered by the Local Councils in order to be able to word-process her poems. Surely, Day Centres are highly contributing to elderly education and the above is just a taste of the whole situation. Related to the previous mentioned event, I would like to highlight the following experience, which clearly shows the determination of some elderly people when it comes to education. Local Council – ICT Courses
Among the services offered by the Local Councils, there were the ICT courses. The following experience shows us the importance of this opportunity for elderly people. Information was gathered through an interview with Mrs. Marija Mamo, a retired lady who is still willing to learn. Maria’s experience is a clear evidence of the importance of elderly education in a society, which is being driven by Information Technology. Maria, whose some of her relatives live in Australia, made use of the Local Council Service in order to learn some basic ICT skills.
During her interview she clearly stated that her intentions were not to obtain any certificates but just to acquire the right skills in order to be able to send e-mails to her relatives. She also pointed out that it was not easy to start ‘attending school again’ and she admitted that there were times when she almost gave up if it was not for her family support. Although, it was not a piece of cake, she is very happy that she took this adventure and she suggests it to her friends. Europe Vision of Elderly Education As already pointed in the beginning of this article, Europe is facing the problem of ‘the ageing society’.
Aware of the drawbacks such situation might bring about, the European Union decided to emphasize more on Elderly Education. In 2000 we saw the emergence of the second Socrates program, GRUNDTVIG whose aim is lifelong learning. (BAGSO, 2003) GRUNDTVIG intend to include elderly people in the European education networks. Surely, this scheme will reinforce adult and elderly education. As a European member Malta should encourage more elderly people to participate in this program thus collaborating with other seniors in different European countries. Conclusion
To conclude, we would like to point out that Elderly Education is a very important issue, which should be given much more importance. It gives elderly people the possibility to actively participate in society, and at the same time meeting with other people. Certainly, all the above mentioned educational schemes are just the beginning and lots of work need to be done in order to achieve the full integration of Elderly Education. We believe that the next step should be the extensive promotion of elderly education in order to make elderly people aware of all the possibilities.