In November 1999, the Macao Polytechnic Institute established its ‘Seniors Academy’ which was the first academic unit in Macao enabling the elderly to study at a higher educational institution. The objectives of the Academy are as follows: to put the idea of continuing education for senior citizens into practice; to give them an opportunity to go back to school; to enrich and renew their knowledge; to enhance their life expectations.
According to these objectives, there are various areas of subjects for the elderly to choose from, such as information technologies, languages, arts and culture, health care & sports. There are now 32 subjects and activities, for a total of 57 classes with 480 enrolments. In order to offer equal opportunity of education for the elderly, from the academic year 2003/2004, the study period of students was fixed to four years. It is important to note that the study of any particular subject is not the only objective of the courses the Polytechnic provides. It is also very important to help the elderly make full use of their spare time. Generally speaking, no-one is ever too old to learn, and thus be happy with their acquired knowledge or skills. The Academy organizes some groups simply for the sake of interest, for example, chorus, musical instruments and traditional Chinese dancing. In addition, a team of volunteers was formed to help others and encourage the elderly to take advantage of all their potential ability. As well as these, there is a team of Tai Chi in the academy, which has the objectives of developing the popularity of the sport of Tai Chi and encouraging the elderly to do more physical exercise. This team has won acclaim in several matches and performances.
During the past 16 years, the Academy has been keen to exchange experience with educational institutions of a similar nature, on the Mainland, in Taiwan and Hong Kong, in order to find the most suitable way of conducting its programs for the elderly. This programming is something that had previously been lacking and which the Academy has benefited from since. In 2009, “The Commendation Activity for Outstanding Educational Institutions for The Elderly in The Country” was held in Beijing, the Seniors Academy was named “National Advanced Elderly University”, whilst President Lei Heong Iok was presented with the “Outstanding Contribution to National Seniors Education Award” and Director Lam Wan Mei was named a “National Advanced Seniors Educator”.