The Silver Learners project is a strategic partnership for exchanging good practice between ten partners from Germany, Great Britain (3), Hungary, Luxembourg, The Netherlands (2) and Poland (2). The project will take place between 1st September 2016 and 31st October 2018 and is aimed at representatives of local education centres, i.e. at the directors of these institutions and the teaching staff who give lessons to groups of learners aged 60+. The consortium has been structured to ensure that various local education facilities with a range of main strengths and focuses are involved as well as trans-regionally active associations.
The objective of Silver Learners is to improve the programme offered by education centers, taking into account the challenges of demographic change as well as the associated altered circumstances and education practices of senior citizens. The older generation needs to be provided with educational support to enable them to remain active members of society and face the challenges of growing old independently for as long as possible. In this context, the fields of media competence (using ICT and new technical resources) and health are regarded as being particularly significant.
In addition, it is essential to reach poorly educated target groups. Elderly people with a migration background, for instance, rarely attend education institutions.
It is planned to communicate tried-and-tested education models from the various countries for improving the learning situation of the elderly and also to jointly develop and implement ideas and concepts. New, innovative educational concepts for the older generation are to be developed on the basis of the different experiences. Since, at present, the adult education centers are primarily attended by the so-called middle classes, the current objective is to focus on persons who have had fewer educational opportunities, including those with a migrant background. This will entail analyzing the motivation for learning as well as the options and the existing barriers to education.
The project comprises six meetings of the project partners. The time between these meetings will be used for processing the results and disseminating and applying them locally as well as for preparing the next convention. The meetings of the partners are to be organized as workshops made up of presentations, dialogues in varying work groups, and excursions. The following issues are regarded as particularly crucial:
- Competencies and learning abilities of the elderly and the consequent requirements on educational programmes
- Communication for and with senior citizens – How can the target groups be reached, in particular those that are not so well educated? How can the communication skills of older people be intensified?
- Further education for everyday life – How can the older generation be supported in their ICT-influenced daily lives? How can new tools be made appropriate for elderly people?
- Further education on health – Besides keeping healthy (sport, prevention) and new technical aids, this focuses mainly on dealing with age-related diseases such as dementia.
The venues and thematic focuses of the meetings have been selected so as to ensure that the partners can best introduce their strengths into the discussion. Meetings are to be held in Iserlohn, Nyíregyháza, Luxembourg, Bunnik, Stockport and Chorzów. The first event will be organized as an introductory kick-off meeting. Then, after four content-related workshops, there will be a summarizing wrap-up meeting at which future, more extensive, cooperative ventures are to be planned.
Besides the specified aims, teaching staff will benefit from the project because their skills will be upgraded, especially regarding the interests of the elderly during lessons, the effective use of ICT, and the inclusion of health aspects. This will enable education centers to improve and expand what they offer and thus for attendees to commit to the institution.
Working together with familiar partners (town twinning, successful partnerships in other EU projects) will reinforce the networks and enable them to be redefined with the help of new partners. The project partners get to know other countries, embark on intercultural dialogues and expand their knowledge, including their linguistic skills. The project will be beneficial to society in Europe as well: well-educated, committed and health-conscious senior citizens face the effects accompanying age with greater confidence. In consequence, the growing generation of elderly people will be encouraged to play an active role in society.
Thanks to the joint work of ten partners, the results of the project will be disseminated in numerous different regions and countries of Europe, thus making a major contribution towards added value in Europe.