In a bid to engage senior citizens and make them more productive, the University of the Third Age (U3A) was on Saturday launched in Nigeria.
The U3A Nigeria is chartered by the Association of International Universities of the Third Age (AIUTA) in France.
Pacesetter news recalls that thee first university of U3A was established in 1973 in France with the cooperation of ILO, WHO and UNESCO, and had since been established in more than 75 countries across the six continents of the world.
Prof. Francois Vellas, the U3A President worldwide, who joined the session through a virtual platform, recounted how the university was brought to Nigeria.
He said the development of U3A with the support of AIUTA was important for senior citizens to be proud of longline learning anywhere.
Mr. Babajide Afolabi, the U3A Coordinator for US and Canada, said that the two-day programme was a huge success with large turnout, calling for collaborations from government and private sector.
“We are looking forward to a very successful entrepreneurship or partnership with various arm of the private sector to help push the programme in the form of humanity support for elders to enjoy their prime years,” he said.
Afolabi said that they established the online academy, a non-conventional university for the senior citizens to have easy access through their mobile phones and Internet.
“The platform is designed for easy use. It is designed so that our seniors will have access with their mobile phones and Internet.
“The beauty of this platform is the simplicity of usage. Even on it, you can form community of likeminds to interact and share ideas.
“It gives us and government the opportunity to have a very decent community where our elders are not forgotten,” he said.
He noted that interested Nigerians of any age can register with U3A online to learn from over 300 courses with just N5,000 membership fee per annum.
Dr. Charles Afolabi, the U3A President Nigeria, said that U3A was a non-conventional university spread over 75 countries and would by 2023 mark its 50th anniversary in Nigeria.
He said that the money invested in the university was sourced from individuals within the organisation.
“There is no job for life. It is either the job leaves you or you leave the job, so we continue to learn forever. Nigeria has a reservoir of elders with brains and vocations.
“We want them to pass these to the youths for better engagement and we want to help UN to reduce poverty level come 2030,” he said.
Arvind Betala, the Edusity Co-Founder, said that one of the fundamental principles of U3A was the need to remove the boundaries.
“One of the fundamental principles of U3A is that we need to remove the boundaries. The boundaries can be estimated that they have to go to school, there is a boundary of communication,” he said.
The guest lecturers were Mrs. Bolatito Joseph, the Zonal Director, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria(FRCN) Ibadan, Mr. Kayode Odedokun, the Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Oyo State and Dr. (Mrs.) Abimbola Afolabi, from the University of Ibadan.
Joseph, Odedokun and Afolabi in their separate remarks, thanked the U3A for bringing the project to Nigeria, urging Nigerians to embrace this initiative.
Comrade Ademola Babalola, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists(NUJ), Oyo State Council, said it was the first a full online university would be established in Nigeria through U3A.
“We implore people to embrace this new reality in the area of learning and research innovation. The good thing about it is that it has no age barrier.
“This is a non-conventional university sponsored by some spirited people across the globe. I want to implore Federal Government to key into this project since they are making efforts toward digital literacy,” he said.
Mr. Tunji Ajibade, the General Manager, Soul FM Ibadan, said the meeting thought him that it was to take care of their senior citizens and why they should relate with others.
“You can’t just say because you are old, you are tired. It is when you relate with others that you will be able to learn new things from them and be able to do other things for yourself,” he said.
The event was attended by the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Lekan Balogun, who was represented by Senior Chief Ademola Odunade, Ayingun Olubadan of Ibadanland as well as several other participants from across Nigeria.
The U3A also have a Nigeria Television which offers contents designed for the elderly in the areas of health, education, sports, religion, entertainment and news.