Mauritius now home to university for the 55+
As the U3A opens its Mauritius chapter, it heralds the dawn of a new era for the older generation on the island – those aged over 55 years.
Image: U3A website
“Retired, but not retiring, and definitely not yet tired”. This fiesty saying captures the spirit of the University of the Third Age (U3A), and, as the U3A opens its Mauritius chapter, it heralds the dawn of a new era for the older generation on the island – those aged over 55 years.
A pioneering effort for the island economy and probably the Indian Ocean region, U3A was officially launched at the Octave Wiehé auditorium in Réduit at the end of last month.
Rashid Beebeejaun, deputy Prime Minister and minister of public utilities, and Sheila Bappoo, minister of social security, praised the initiative. They opined that the U3A is in line with the national policy of ensuring an active retirement and social inclusion in Mauritius.
Accredited by the Association Internationale des Universités du Troisième Age (AIUTA), the U3A was started in France in 1973 and is now present across the world in UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, South Africa, Eastern Europe, and even in a virtual avatar.
The U3A Mauritius was confirmed as member of the International Association of Universities of Third Age (IAUTA) on 12 September 2013 at Uppsala, Sweden.
U3A – the older person’s lifelong learning organisation – gives the elderly the opportunity to rediscover themselves and develop new talents. By encouraging intergenerational interaction, it seeks to avoid isolation of retired persons.
Armoogum Parsuramen, the founding president, explained that U3A is the answer to post-retirement and allows the elderly to learn new competencies and capabilities.
It allows interaction between the youth and the elderly through shared knowledge and experience and mutual aid, he added.
Parsuramen is a former education minister of Mauritius from 1983 to 1995 and served as Advisor to the World Bank from 1997 to 1998. Subsequently appointed as Director and Representative of UNESCO from 1998 to 2011, he has the experience and expertise to lead this sensitive and crucial initiative.
With an annual contribution of Rs 500, anyone in Mauritius who is more than 55 years old can access all courses available. Be it cinema, theatre, ICT, health, environment, painting, yoga/sports, social sciences or language, the older generation can opt for any stream to enhance their knowledge and add to their life skills.
It is important to note that the U3A will not offer any degree but will give a testimony of participation in class.