Education for aged hit by neglect

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 12:00am

The Government is paying lip service to the concept of lifelong education by neglecting senior citizens, the Hong Kong Council of Social Service says.

Revealing the results of a survey into education for the elderly, the council found more than half the territory's welfare organisations faced funding shortages and teaching shortfalls in courses for the aged.

Of 142 service units for the elderly studied, 56 per cent reported difficulties in finding teachers and 54 per cent reported lack of funds.

'Without elderly education, there is no real lifelong education,' Ng Shun-shun co-ordinator (elderly service) from the Salvation Army, who headed the survey, said.

Welfare units interviewed have run 4,507 courses attended by 28,800 old people over the past six months.

Most included lessons in singing, dancing, physical exercise, craft making and Chinese and English writing.

The council said welfare bodies played a vital role in organising courses for the elderly, adding that the courses were diversified and not only for recreation purposes.

The survey found that 41.5 per cent of the courses were paid for by the elderly themselves while 28.1 per cent were paid for by charity.

Ms Ng said the Education Department only contributed 24 per cent of the total funding.

'And it only sponsors three kinds of course - basic Chinese writing knowledge, social education and retirement living courses,' she said.

'It is not enough, it should fund more courses in order to meet the various demands of the aged.' According to the Government, there are about one million people aged over 60 in Hong Kong. The figure is expected to rise to 1.6 million in 2016, equal to one in every five Hong Kong people.