A little hope goes a long way. It gets difficult to study or even remember as one grows old. But it’s not impossible to stay young and agile for the middle-aged or even the old. According to the Limca Book of Records, Raj Kumar Vaishya, is the oldest man to get a masters degree at the tender age of 97. He now has a Masters degree in Economics. 90 year old, Paul Siromoni from Chennai recently earned his PhD. 50 year old Chennai professor , VN Parthiban holds more than 145 academic degrees. He teaches more than 100 subjects in colleges across Chennai and spends his Sundays studying and appearing for more exams. 72 year old Mukund Chari, former security guard and employee of Nira Cooperative Society, has joined Mumbai’s St.Xavier’s Night school to study English literature from scratch. He was unable to pursue college education as a child because of his parents’ deaths, but now, he is determined to fulfill his desire to study and live without regrets.
Why is it so important for adults to be educated formally? A country is meaningless if its people are not educated. It is education and enlightenment that lifts a nation to greater heights, and this needs to include the adult population too. Education is skill. It doesn’t necessarily have to be formal. Education of adults is a powerful incentive to primary education of the young ones. It promotes a rational, scientific mindset to everyday situations and consequently and gradually, eliminates superstitions and other undesirable social stigmas.
These days, due to lack of education among the elderly, we can see cases wherein they become victims of misinformation, mistreatment property fraud. Lack of knowledge about the bank procedures, property rights and processing of property, inadequate knowledge of rental agreements and property transfer laws, make them more susceptible to fraudulent usurpation of property and money related scams like credit card and loan frauds. Thus, another purpose of education is to utilize ones skill set in order to gain awareness of the laws that impact you. The knowledge of one’s rights, thus becomes very important. In these times of rising crimes and distrust among relatives, it becomes particularly important to gain this kind of education for elderly.
However, how feasible is it to bring education to this section of the society on a large scale? Most elderly do not have mainstream information required for exercising their rights. A lot of older adults consider education to be a waste of time and money and also feel like they have learnt enough from their life experiences. They fail to understand that the dynamics of the changing world require them to update their knowledge. For the same, they will also have to upgrade their sources of knowledge/information.
Adults, especially senior citizens can be motivated to get education when they are willing to see how it can benefit them. They need to be told that education can help them in many ways and reduce their dependency upon others. We can start social groups to teach them the basics of banking procedures and property laws.
Also, we don’t necessarily need fancy institutions for this kind of real world education. As responsible people of the society, all we need to do is start small and teach the basics to our grandparents and people from our neighbourhood. Such education should include dissemination of information on tax payments, filing complaints, court and stamp-paper work, property registration, operating basic technology, retirement planning, banking knowledge etc. This is important for everyone including teenagers and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who do not necessarily have the means or motivation to acquire this information and are therefore easily scammed, misguided and cheated.
This kind of orientation towards learning is a step towards creating a street-smart nation. It promotes improvements in the literacy rates and over all well-being of the people. Small steps could help our elderly gain access to the ways of dealing with this dynamic world. Equipping them with basic knowledge about relevant matters will surely make it easier for them to engage independently without having to ask for help. The importance of such education needs to be realised, so that we are able to empower a major section of our society, which currently is highly dependent.
Picture Credits : cedefop.europa.eu