Seniors Academy seeks to offer more lifelong learning opportunities

Friday, May 22, 2009
Issue 709, Page 5
Word count: 482
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung 

The Macao Polytechnic Institute’s (MPI) Seniors Academy hopes to be allocated more government resources in order to increase its places and courses to meet the growing demand.

The 2008/2009 graduation ceremony was held at the MPI yesterday where certificates were conferred to 128 elderly students over the age of 55.

MPI president Lei Heong Iok said in a speech that the graduates would always be welcome to visit the school in the future, adding the graduation marked the “starting point of another stage of life.”

Although the elderly graduates were not given graduation caps to throw into the air and the ceremony might not have been as formal as those for young people, they still appeared excited and were all wearing a smile all day long.

Pun It Sang was very proud of himself for having completed the four-year Chinese calligraphy course.

Dressing in the red graduation gown, the 78-year-old fished out photos of his calligraphy from his pocket and showed to the reporters.

“People say I’m looking younger and younger. I think the longer I’m studying the healthier I am. I’m very happy and hope that I could continue to study. Or if anyone needs help, I hope I can become a trainer or coach,” Pun said.

However, due to limited places and resources, every student can only enrol in one four-year program at the Seniors Academy, and once the program is completed it is very unlikely for them to be admitted again.

“They [the Seniors Academy] said they may not have a place for me in the next academic year which made me very disappointed,” Pun added.

Another graduate, Ms Chan, said that she would still try her luck and lodge an application for another four-year course. If she was selected, she said she would learn Chinese painting.

According to her, lifelong learning helped “enrich elderly people’s retirement lives and their understanding about the world outside.”

“It [studying at the Seniors Academy] made me not to be out of touch with society and allowed me to communicate more with the young generation – getting to know computers is already a very good example,” she said.

In the past four years, Ms Chan also took up English and Chinese calligraphy.

“My family and children are all very supportive and have come to the graduation ceremony today [yesterday],” she said.

According to the MPI president, the Seniors Academy can only allow altogether 500 students to study at the same time due to limited resources such as classrooms and teachers.

However, he said the number of applicants every year had been increasing.

“Many of the students think four years is too short and they want to learn more and study longer. But we can’t take them all,” Lei said.

“We hope the government could invest more resources so that more different courses and places will be available to satisfy elderly people’s demands,” he added.

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