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Innovative Management and Resources Integration--The Ministry of Education 2013 Senior Citizens Education Workshop

In order to reach a consensus on senior citizen education and to provide a chance to share experiences, achievements, and professional knowledge, the Ministry of Education (MOE) invited the Pingtung County Government to hold the “2013 Ministry of Education Senior Citizens Education Workshop” at Tzu Hui Institute of Technology (慈惠醫護管理專科學校) from March 6th to 8th. 225 township Senior Citizen Active Learning Center Directors and 22 County (city) governments’ Section Chiefs and staff members that directly handle senior citizen education are invited to attend this workshop. The participants discussed topics related to effectively conduct the senior citizens’ education. As Taiwan is becoming an aging society, the government needs to care more about senior citizens, and make their lives healthier and more energetic.

The MOE policy of establishing nationwide Senior Citizen Active Learning Centers has been in place for 5 years. The theme of the 2013 workshop is “innovative management and resources integration”. It aims to improve the management of nationwide Senior Citizen Active Learning Centers and integrating local resources. Political Deputy Minister Huang Pi-twan (黃碧端) hosted the workshop. She said that it’s important for senior citizens to learn actively, and it will keep them young. People who always learn new things have a lower possibility of becoming dull and melancholy, and that’s why education brings active lives and happy learning to elderly people. Huang quoted from The Analects of Confucius, Chapter 18 (論語述而篇) to share with the participants: “He is a simple man, eagerly pursuit of knowledge and forgets to eat, so joyful and forgets the sorrows, and does not perceive that old age is coming.” (發憤忘食,樂以忘憂,不知老之將至) Also, Pingtung County Magistrate Tsao Chi Hung (曹啟鴻) delivered his keynote speech on “How Pingtung County Integrates Resources to Make a Friendly Environment for Senior Citizens’ Active Learning.” He mentioned that Pingtung County planned a senior citizens active learning program named “Let’s Dance with Old Age, What’s There to Fear?” (與老共舞,我們怕什麼?) It invites senior citizens to travel and learn in Pingtung County, to enjoy the natural landscape, culture, environment and sightseeing.

The workshop enhanced education workers’ professional capabilities. It also invited scholars to speak on “How to Integrate Local Resources, teacher training, and Form Groups of Autonomous Learning,” and held group discussions. The Hengchun Senior Citizen Active Learning Center shared “Taste of Life”(生命的滋味) stories. Besides, during the activity of “The Pride of Hengchun’s Senior Citizens: Singing Ballads in the Ancient City” (古城民謠香-恆春樂齡的驕傲), the participants sang local ballads, told the backgrounds of ballads, and shared stories about how senior citizens turn their different life experiences into active learning.

During the workshop, Pingtung County Senior Citizen Active Learning Demonstration Center and the Shoufeng Senior Citizen Active Learning Center in Hualien County also shared their human resource training, sustainable management, and integration resource experiences. Tang Rong Hall (唐榮堂), which was originally belonged to the Pingtung County Cultural Affairs Bureau, was transformed into colorful Senior Citizen Active Learning Demonstration Center with an atmosphere suited for arts and humanities. The design Center provided a course named “Senior Citizen Aesthetics.” The theme of project is aesthetics, which let the local senior citizens connect their lives with history by recalling memories, and cultivate their ability to appreciate ink painting and photography. You Ya-fan (游雅帆), the director of the Shoufeng Senior Citizen Active Learning Center in Hualien County, mentioned how the Center operated a business with limited resources. They come out held an idea of “The Forest and The Trees (見樹又見林): Sustainable Development in an Aging Society,” encouraging senior citizens to join the activities of community service, to pass down local culture, to join the action of energy conservation and carbon reduction, even to create a “society of helpful seniors” (老而有所用). The project also included new immigrants to help senior citizens in daily life, and senior citizens to teach new immigrants how to cook traditional Taiwanese dishes. Through the above activities, both senior citizens and new immigrants can adjust their attitudes toward each other and avoid being discriminated and prejudiced against.

With the low birthrate and aging populations in Taiwan, the trend toward having fewer children and the greater percentage of elderly people in the society are inevitable. It is expected that Taiwan will be an Aging Society in 2018, and a Super Aging Society in 2025. According to 2011 statistics, people’s life expectancy is about 79.15 in Taiwan, and the average retirement age is 61.9 for males and 59.3 for females. How to be connected in social activities, and how to positively face retirement are important issues. In order to construct a friendly Senior Citizen Learning System, the MOE provides learning projects and activities suited for senior citizens. There are 225 Senior Citizen Active Learning Centers in Taiwan, and that will be increased to 275 this year. It is expected that there will be learning activities promoted by Senior Citizen Active Learning Centers in urban and rural areas, and the MOE welcomes people who are over 55 to join Senior Citizen Active Learning activities. Further information can be found in the Website for Senior Citizen Active Learning, Ministry of Education: