Mesude Erşan - ANTALYA
Some 387 students who are over the age of 60 have completed their first year at a course dubbed “refreshment program” at Akdeniz University in the Mediterranean province of Antalya.
The gerontology department of the university started a project for people who are over 60, most of whom retired a year ago, teaching them medicine and law. They also educate them on house work and knitting.
Lessons are held three days a week with classes beginning in the evening at 5:00 p.m. Lessons go on for approximately 2.5 hours a day. The program also offers overaged students ID cards like other ordinary university students, giving them the opportunity to access university facilities like the library.
The syllabus of the course includes philosophy, psychology, sociology, biology, law, medicine and gerontology. They are also given lessons on increasing the quality of life and how to age successfully.
Students take an exam at the end of each year. When they complete the four-year education, they are required to write a 30-page thesis.
İsmail Tufan, the head of the department, said they were inspired by pedagogy when they were developing this program.
“There is a huge demand for our refreshment university. Some 1466 students have already enrolled at the department,” he added.
He also noted that the department named “GeroAtlas60+” was a social responsibility project, stating that they aimed to get recognized legally by the national Higher Education Board (YÖK).
The project’s participants expressed their satisfaction in enrolling at the department.
Hicran Karabudak, a retired public administrator, 66, said she finally had a reason to leave the house.
“After retiring, I started to feel useless. After that, this university came into my life. Finally, I have a reason to get out of the house,” she added.
Ali Akbaş, a 64-year-old retired chorographer, said he was feeling extremely healthy and excited as though he had begun a new work.
“When I came here, I had high blood pressure and diabetes. I was taking nine pills per day. My diabetes and blood pressure have dropped to a normal level. I lost seven kilograms. I learned how to cook and knit a jumper,” he said.
Raziye Türkanbağ, a 60-year-old retired teacher, said she was very experienced in life.
“I come here with my 80-year-old mother. She likes to come here even though she has dementia. Things that I learned here have contributed to my life,” she said.