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Opening a new era in the education about the elderly-the Ministry of Education organizes the first ever "Forum of International Practice of Education about the Elderly"

Opening a new era in the education about the elderly-the Ministry of Education organizes the first ever "Forum of International Practice of Education about the Elderly"
The first "Forum of International Practice of Education about the Elderly" is going to be held on October 20th and 21st at the National Taiwan Science Education Center, organizations being involved in the discussion include the Beth Johnson Foundation, UK, North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, USA, Human Services Department, City of Fremont, CA, USA, Setagaya Lifelong University, Japan, the Korean Senior Citizens Association, Korea, Singapore Action Group of Elders, Singapore, and Melaka Elder Association, Malaysia.

A press conference was held on the 19th and the topics discussed in the forum were introduced to the public. Nan-Xian Ju, the Chief Department of Social Education, MOE, expressed his desire to raise the quality of education about the elderly through the exchanging of experiences and ideas internationally.

Organizations highly experienced in dealing with the elderly will share their ideas in this forum. For many years, the Beth Johnson Foundation has been developing the potential of the elderly. The foundation put in a lot of effort to help the elderly to define their societal roles and increasing their influence overall. In addition, the foundation have explored and developed solutions for issues in communication between the elderly and the younger generations. North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement has introduced the concept of "Creative Retirement" and has been working hard to get the senior citizens to embrace it. The center encourages the elderly to come up with fresh ideas in order to promote personal growth and contribute to the society. The Setagaya Lifelong University, Japan has been educating the society that the elderly need to learn to self-sustain in addition to education and social benefits.

Other participants of this forum include the domestic governmental departments and non-profit organizations that have made progress in education about the elderly. These departments and organizations include the South Sun Aging Association, Taiwan, Suan-Lien Elderly Center, Taiwan, and Toy Clinic, Taiwan. Dances and singings will be presented by elders over 80 from the South Sun Aging Association, Taiwan. Their performance will present the participants the creative and energetic sides of the domestic elderly. Information on the domestic and international efforts to better educate people about the elderly will be on display right outside the forum.

It's hoped that from this forum and the associated festivities, the people and the elderly of the society will learn that "the Double Ninth Festival (a day in Taiwan to celebrate the elderly" isn't just about respecting the wisdom of the elderly and understand their needs, but also a day to see that even they can be lively and energetic and still have something to contribute to the society as an important group.

The statistics show that the number of elderly in this country has been increasing steadily. Every month the number of people over 65 years increases by 3,500 to 5,000 and it's estimated that by 2017, the population of the elderly over 65 will reach 13.67%. By that time this country will become what the UNESCO classify as an "aging society" (14% of the population is the elderly).

In order to firmly implement and be successful of the 4 goals stated in the "White paper for implementing education about the elderly in an aging society" drafted by the Ministry of Education: Life time learning, healthy and happy, self sustaining with dignity, and societal participation, in addition to subsidizing local governments and non-profit organizations in the organization of the education for the elderly, the Ministry of Education will open 20 "Senior Learning Center" in 2007 by utilizing empty classrooms in Middle and Elementary school. In October it has declare the month the "Double Ninth Learning Month" and organized 100 plus "activities for the celebration of the Double Ninth in 2006 sponsored by the Ministry of Education".

It is the hope of this Ministry that the combined efforts of educational departments, welfare agencies and non-profit organizations will improve the education about the elderly and create a society without age prejudice and have full respect for life.

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