Monday, May 9, 2011


The Sunday Star 19 August 2007
Did you know there is a university that caters exclusively to senior citizens aged 50 or above right here in Kuala Lumpur? No? Well, you are not the only one. Up till last week, I had no idea that the only University of the Third Age (U3A) in the region is located right here in KL, in University Putra Malaysia (UPM).

I am familiar with U3A, UK, having written about it in a March 2009 post "Never too old to be a lifelong learner". (Do read it - lots of resources for seniors interested in lifelong learning.) As a strong advocate of LLL , you can imagine how excited I was to receive an invitation to U3A Malaysia's Orientation Day last Saturday.

A bit of background info on U3A Malaysia (U3AM):  It started in 2007 as a pilot program known as the Lifelong Learning Initiative for the Elderly (LLIFE) initiated by the Director of the Institute of Gerontology, Professor Dr. Tengku Aizan Hamid. The encouraging response from senior citizens resulted in the setting up of U3A Malaysia a year later. The project is supported by the Government of Malaysia and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Currently U3AM offers 39 non-academic courses covering a wide range of subjects including languages, art and craft, gardening, healthy cooking, swimming, traditional Chinese medicine, fitness, computing and digital photography. There are two semesters of three months each. Participants can sign up for any 1-3 courses per semester for a fee of only Rm80. Each additional course is an extra Rm30. Instructors are either members of the teaching staff of UPM, or industry experts with a wealth of experience.
(Pic: Prof Tengku Aizan)

This is one government-backed program that deserves two thumbs-up, and Prof Tengku Aizan should be given a standing ovation for all her hard work in getting the project off the ground. U3A (KL and Selangor) has recently been registered with the ROS. A small but dedicated committee of volunteers led by its president, Mr Azlan Hussain, is helping to run the program.
President of U3A KL and Selangor, Mr Azlan Hussain
The first course commences on 16 May. If you are keen to sign up, you can download the registration form from the website. For more details on courses and schedule, please visit the website at

Here's a pictorial account of U3AM's Orientation Day at the Institute of Gerontology, UPM.
Seniors eager to sign up for U3A membership and register for the courses.
A section of the attendees listening to the briefing by Senior Research Officer and U3AM course coordinator, Mr Chai Sen Tyng.
One of the U3AM posters on display.

 There's even a graduation ceremony upon completion of the two semesters. Click on the image to enlarge.
For semester one, I've signed up for Swimming, Healthy Cooking, Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Basic Digital Photography and Adult Development & Ageing (free core course) all for the incredibly affordable fee of Rm110!

The only downside of U3A Malaysia is the distance. All courses are held at UPM which is a good 20-minute drive from the city. But for those living in the vicinity or near a KTM station, this shouldn't be an issue.

As the website says, "What are you waiting for? Come join us on the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, have fun and make new friends along the way!"

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