When students from Ukraine, Russia and other countries in Eastern Europe come on exchange programs to universities in North America, they are usually surprised by the large number of seniors who get back to school and study at the university at the age of retirement. In many countries, one can become a student only at a young age and only if he or she is enrolled as a regular student with the intention to pursue a degree and study the program in full. In many countries seniors cannot become college students and take one or two courses of interest.
However, there are many seniors who are interested in going back to school. Some of them would like to become members of the wider community, while others are still working part-time and need more skills. This is where telecentres have the opportunity to fill a gap and provide a service. The telecentre in Dniprodzerzhinsk, Ukraine teaches senior citizens to use online tools, open email boxes, operate Internet Explorer and Skype, search online resources and, as a result, unlock new doors for themselves.
In Ukraine, it is unusual to have a teacher be younger than a student. However, in this case, it is a win-win situation. Seniors integrate into younger communities, increase their social network and discover important legal and health information. Young professionals get an opportunity to volunteer and receive practical experience by exercising their communication, technical and teaching skills.
The telecentre is based in the Dniprodzerzhinsk Public Taras Shevchenko Library. The project became possible after the library received a grant from Bibliomist (“Library-Bridge”), a program that helps Ukrainian communities by modernizing access to information in public libraries.
In the video you can see 71-year-old Anatoliy Oleksandrovych, a student of the program, who shares his experience and conveys his gratitude to Valeriy Sergiyovych Dekhtyar, his teacher. “It is a pity that I could not get these skills earlier,” says Anatoliy Oleksandrovych. Kateryna Ivanivna, a 70-year-old student, says that she had come to this training in order to “go one step up.”
With the help of these courses, more and more Ukrainians will be able to step into the twenty-first century. As the world becomes more dependent on technology, it is prudent that all cultures and generations learn to embrace it. This telecentre in Dniprodzerzhinsk is one step in the right direction.