In order to promote active-aging learning programs in Taiwan, the Ministry of Education held the 2018 International Conference on Active Aging and Learning at the following locations: National Central Library (December 5th) and National Chung Cheng University (December 7th). This year, we have invited five scholars and experts in the field from various countries including New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Brazil, and South Korea to share their experiences and current research. The events were successful and promoted healthy exchanges of active learning topics between Taiwan and other countries.
At the conference, the scholars shared their current research topics and schemes in active-aging learning. The scholars from Brazil shared with us “The University of the Third Age,” and the scholars from New Zealand, “Learning in later life”; furthermore, the scholars from Japan presented “Kominkan”, and those from Singapore and South Korea, “Successful Aging Plan” and “Learning in the Elderly”, respectively. Meanwhile, both the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Ministry of Labor joined our inter-departmental discussions.
Lin Teng-Chiao, the Administrative Deputy Minister, expressed that currently, the rate of growth in the Taiwan aging population is faster than that of Japan and other countries. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Education promoted active learning 10 years ago, and it changed and even, enhanced the lives of the citizens who are above 55 years old. Active learning extended the retirement time from the third age, and shortened the fourth age, during which the elderly will become a resource and a contributing members to the society. Currently, there are 368 active-aging learning centers in Taiwan and 107 active aging learning universities. The population of active aging learning has grown to 2,360,000 people and each center offers various programs that seek to help the elderly to learn and enjoy life.
Shih-Sui (拾穗) - which means "Harvest” in Chinese - was selected as the theme of this conference. The theme of the conference, Shih-Sui (拾穗) is homophonic with ten years old in Chinese, and it represents the goals that were achieved in the past decade. There are now 368 active aging learning centers, 2,857 villages, 1,314 active aging learning groups, 107 active aging learning Universities, and 348 self-directed learning service groups that have accumulated 15,240,000 participations.
In March 2018, 14.05% of the population in Taiwan was estimated to be over 65 years old, which officially made Taiwan an “aged society”. The Ministry of Education’s promotion of the active aging and learning policy has sparked the trend of learning for many seniors in Taiwan; however, finding a way to effectively enrich the lives of these senior citizens remains an ongoing task for the Taiwanese government. These policies that seek to promote learning amongst the elderly are valuable because they would allow these seniors to perform, serve as lecturers, help others, realize their dreams when they were young, which are all significant ways that not only would lead to the enhancement of human lives, but also would prepare the elderly cohort as an important resource for the society as a whole.
Active aging learning has positively affected the lives of many senior citizens. Because these programs have allowed the elderly to be “students” once again, many of them were very happy. Meanwhile, these programs for the elderly also reported to have positively shifted the public’s stereotypes towards the aging cohort, which is a gateway to a new elderly generation. For more information: http://moe.senioredu.moe.gov.tw