Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Those of us with time on our hands either because we have retired or because we are casualties of the current economic downturn, there’s no time like now to equip ourselves with new knowledge or new skills. When it comes to courses available, we are spoilt for choice. Practically every university offers courses catering to the adult learner.

Don’t have the time to attend classes? Opt for online courses at any of the virtual universities - Open University Malaysia (OUM), Wawasan Open University (WOU) and e-Asia University. Entry requirements are kept to a minimum to enable more adults to further their studies. Fees are more than affordable, with OUM offering an unbelievable 75% discount to senior citizens! There is no age limit. The oldest student at WOU where I am a part-time tutor is 70+.

Can't afford the fees? Check out the University of the People (UoP), an online non-profit university that offers FREE tuition for its degree courses. Students pay only a nominal fee for registration and examinations. UoP will be opening its doors this April 2009. For those seniors who were unable to further their studies after high school, this is the best time to get that university degree. All you need is a pc with reliable internet connection, and a passion for learning!

Aside from degree courses, there are short courses that are also lighter on the purse. From grooming to gardening, from running a pre-school to managing a health spa – you name it, there are courses available for it. To meet the increasing demand for adult education, even political parties like the Malaysian-Chinese Association (MCA) have set up lifelong learning centres all over the country.

UNESCO launched the International Adult Learning Week (IALW) in 2000. This year, IALW will be observed in close to 40 countries. There’s also the recently concluded Adult Learners’ Festival in Ireland. In the UK alone, there are at least 700 branches of the University of the Third Age (U3A). Closer to home, there is Singapore’s YAH! Community College for senior citizens. These institutions do not award degrees. There are no exams, and learning is seen as a co-operative process.

Local media groups, The Star and The New Straits Times (NST), regularly conduct workshops for those interested in topics like digital photography, qigong for health, baking, writing for the media, and even social etiquette. I am tempted to sign up for NST's 2-day workshop on 'Writing For Magazines' on May 16-17.

Not all learning costs money. There are plenty of free talks that you can attend if you have the time and the interest. Last Saturday I attended a 2-hour talk on Vashtu Sastra (Indian Feng Shui ) by T. Selva. It was definitely time well-spent. Among other things, I learned about positive and negative energies, and auspicious dates for important events.

Finally, there’s a whole world of e-learning on the internet. Just do a search on a topic that interests you, and you’ll be amazed at what your search will uncover. Knowledge is practically at your fingertips, and just a click away. It's that simple to enrich your mind, and in the comfort and privacy of your own home too.

With such easy access to learning resources, it is difficult to understand why so many senior citizens still consider themselves too old to learn anything. As Henry Ford says, "Whether you think you can or you can't, you are right'. At 95, Nola Ochs is the world’s oldest graduate. She is proof that one can learn at any age.

Learning has never been more fun, more affordable and more acessible than now.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow;
Learn as if you were to live forever.
~ Gandhi ~

1 comment:

Starmandala said...

The blog is looking really good, my dear. Very competent and tidy layout - and such loving vibes! Like the pic of you at the laptop :-) xox