PM attending Congress of Universities of Third Age

- Universities of the Third Age are a valuable movement. Educational and professional activity of the elderly is by no means extravagant - said Donald Tusk while addressing the Congress of Universities of the Third Age, held in Warsaw.

The head of the government reminded that during his previous meetings with the community associating universities of the third age not only problems and expectations thereof were discussed, but the talks very often focused on what the future holds for the citizens of Poland.

PM attending the Congress of Universities of the Third Age (video: TVN24/ TVN Agency)

- It is not for the first time in the history of Poland that extraordinary responsibility is displayed by those who have already concluded their active lives, and those who could focus - for fully understandable reasons - on relaxing, on enjoying the autumn of their lives - added the Prime Minister.

Donald Tusk related to the discussions on the government’s plan to raise the retirement age. He noted that the change stems, inter alia, from the higher average longevity. - Discussions on how long people should work were first initiated, both in Europe and worldwide, several years ago, and seem to be at their peak today - noted the Prime Minister. He also stressed that extension of the retirement age is necessary due to concerns that the number of young people on the labor market will be dwindling in the future.

The head of the government announced a campaign concerning changes in the pension system. - Apart from passing a relevant legal act, we also intend to conduct an information campaign, and aim to support all forms of social and professional activity - he said.

The PM appealed to all the circles involved to find a compromise solution. - I am convinced that the regulations we will adopt will allow us to support those who cannot continue their professional careers due to health-related and other reasons - he said while referring to the changes proposed. Donald Tusk added that the draft solutions would be submitted to the Parliament soon.

The head of the government noted that the intention to raise the retirement age is based, inter alia, on discussions held with the participants of courses organized by universities of the third age. - I would not have the courage to come forward with this difficult proposal, if it was not for the experience of your circles that you shared with me during our numerous meetings - he said. The Prime Minister assessed that in line with those experiences, if proper conditions are provided, the right people are involved and the funds are available, educational, professional and social activity of the elderly comes as a natural phenomenon and is by no means “an extravagant behavior, a whimsy of a bored, elderly person".

Donald Tusk underlined that due to the current demographic trends, those aged 50+ will account for nearly half of the entire population in the decades to come. Hence, a shift in our thinking about the elderly is required. - We need to perceive the elderly, more often and with greater boldness, not as representatives of a minority that requires to be taken care of. We need to perceive them as a half of the entire population that is fully entitled to take advantage of all the joys life has to offer - he convinced. - Your experience will serve as a priceless guidance for those who will be learning, once the retirement age has been changed, how to remain professionally active - he noted.

The head of the government ensured that he would be advocating a solution to define a relevant legal basis for earmarking funds for the needs of universities of the third age, which will facilitate the use of such funds. - Your ideas and your involvement are among the factors that will determine the future of those who are 30, 15 or 5 years old today - he summed up.

The Congress of the Universities of the Third Age is the primary event in the celebrations of the Year of the Universities of the Third Age.The main slogan of the congress reads: “Innovative universities of the third age for the civil society and the economy”. The Congress is attended by nearly 3 thousand representatives actively involved in the movement. The Year of the Universities of the Third Age is organized by: Polish Association of Universities of the Third Age, National Federation of Associations of Universities of the Third Age, and the Jagiellonian University Foundation.

The Senate has named 2012 a Year of the Universities of the Third Age, and the European Union Council has named it the European Year For Active Aging and Solidarity Between Generations.

There are 385 universities of the third age with over 100 thousand students currently operating in Poland.

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