|International Perspective - Part III|
U3As Around the World
Most of the UTAs in continental Europe-and there are programs in every country-are linked in varying ways to universities since they are more like the French model than the British one. All program have very high academic standards and strong research components. Most are members of the international organization, AIUTA. To see a list of international programs in Europe be sure to visit the AIUTA web site found at http://www.aiuta.asso.fr/ or the international U3A web site at www.worldu3a.org.
The British model of U3A was introduced in Melbourne, Australia in 1984. Within ten years the movement was providing a wide variety of intellectually demanding courses, crafts workshops and social activities to more than 100 groups. Today the Australian lifelong learning movement is thriving. Not only do they have more than 160 programs, with over 50,000 members throughout the country, they have also developed the first web site that enables their far-flung citizens, many in very remote areas, to take on-line courses. To get an idea of what courses are being offered check out www.u3aonline.org.
U3A programs did not come to New Zealand until 1989, when the first program was developed in Auckland. Since then the movement has been spreading throughout the country and today there are more than 50 programs with close to 10,000 members. Each group is independent and modeled on the British example. Although many of the programs take place in private homes, the educational content remains high. U3As in New Zealand share with Australia many of the same resources, such as the online courses and a main web site. Like Australia, they do not have a national coordinating organization. To find programs in New Zealand check out the Australian site at http://www3.griffith.edu.au/03/u3a/.
In China, the U3A movement entered the country in the 1980s and today China has the largest number of U3As, more than 19,000, with almost 2 million members. Universities for the Aged (UAs) is another movement in China with almost 3 million citizens taking classes at special schools or universities throughout the country. Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese governments have regarded education as important for helping the more than 100 million older Chinese to adapt to social change. This emphasis on education has led to a strong lifelong learning movement for older adults.
The lifelong learning movement in Japan is rather new, but thanks to Lifelong Learning legislation, large numbers of older Japanese adults now take classes in “elderly colleges.” More specialized programming is being planned, and programs similar to lifelong learning institutes are also being developed.
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Next Time…We will look at lifelong learning in other countries from yet another perspective.