Education/News/May 2019/Seniors also count!

Seniors also count!

Author: GualdimG

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Summary: in view of the growing importance of the elderly population in modern societies, and the interesting possibilities of mutual benefit for both senior citizens and Wikimedia projects, the WMPT volunteers are aiming to develop the training of seniors in collaboration with the local U3A´s.

Atelier Wiki Sénior Sintra

In the western countries, and in Portugal in particular, the population is aging, due namely to the increase in the average life expectancy and the low birth rate. This growing number of older people has influence over the economic, political, social and cultural scenarios in these countries. From a cultural point of view, significant changes are seen both among consumers and producers of these services, with more and more public and private entities adjusting their products / services to this target audience[1]

In twenty years, from 1990 to 2010, in Portugal, the number of people aged 65 and over increased from 1.3 million to 2 million, with life expectancy increasing from 74.1 to 79.6 years, the number of seniors with a university degree increased from 0.02% to 0.04% and the number of students in the Senior Universities increased from 1,200 to 32,000 .[1] [2]

Internet use by seniors is growing with 43% of seniors (55 to 74 years old) having regular access to the internet according to a 2018 survey when in 2009 it was only 15%. Eurostat

On the other hand, the Universities of the Third Age (U3A) are a model of training of seniors with great success in the world that offers a wide range of cultural, recreational, scientific and learning activities, falling within the concept of lifelong learning. [3][]

In view of this framework and in view of the mutual benefit both for the active aging of the elderly and for the development of Wikimedia content, Wikimedia Portugal members have been developing Workshops for editing on Wikipedia and in the other sister platforms at U3A´s having the first event occurred on March 6, 2019 at the Senior University of Sintra [1] with the presence of six people [2] five of those present at the event were able to create a short article on a historical subject. [3]

A second set of initiation events on Wikipedia aimed at the citizens of the Third Age is scheduled for the Academia of S. Domingos de Benfica (Lisbon) [4]. On the 15th and 16th of May had been realized 3 sessions of 2 hours each with a total of 21 attendees [5], with the possibility of continuing later, in which, in addition to the generic presentation of Wikipedia and the sister platforms, those who attend will learn how to edit in Wikipedia, Commons and Wikidata.

A bit of history

The first U3A came out in France in 1973 at the University of Social Sciences in Toulouse with Pierre Vellas, who had the idea of associating leisure, teaching and research. He was also the founder of the International Association of Senior Universities (AI U3A) [] , in 1976, and defined U3A as follows: "Public health institutions aiming to raise the levels of physical, mental and social health of the elderly and to provide them with programs activities. ".[3]

But in the pedagogical aspect the principle of U3A s dates back to 1727 when Benjamin Franklin, in Philadelphia, USA, formed a group of adults and elders called “Junto" who for thirty years met weekly to discuss situations related to society and the community. Also in the USA, in the 19th century, the "Lyceum" was a program for adults and for the elderly that had as objective to transmit knowledge to the inhabitants of small rural counties.[3]

Also contributing to the emergence of the U3As were the popular schools or universities typical of the northern European countries and Germany. The first Popular School was founded in Denmark in 1844 based on the ideas of N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783-1872).[3]

U3A´s are created either by the public authorities (municipalities) or by civil society entities such as NGOs. The existence of this type of university stems from the need felt by the older members of the population to practice interesting activities that improve their well- being and by the public institutions that intend to provide these activities to an increasing part of the population. In 2012, throughout the territory of Portugal, there were about 168 U3A´s.[4]

And so, in view of the growing importance of the elderly population in modern societies, and the interesting possibilities of mutual benefit for both senior citizens and Wikimedia projects, the WMPT volunteers are aiming to continue with this type of training in collaboration with the local U3A´s.

  1. 1.0 1.1 Luís Jacob, "As Pessoas Idosas enquanto Consumidoras de Cultura e Lazer"
  2. [ PORDATA Base de dados suportada pela Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Luís Jacob, "Universidades Seniores: Criar novos projectos de vida"
  4. Luís Jacob, with Acídio de Jesus and Joana Sampaio, "Universidades Séniores - Criar Novos Projectos de Vida"