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Older people should have access to education

19th October 2005

Help the Aged has criticised the government for its lack of support in regards to further education for older people.

The comments come after the news that 96-year-old Bernard Herzberg has just completed a masters degree at the University of East London and is now undertaking a further course in economics and literature.

David Sinclair, policy manager at Help the Aged, said Mr Herzberg is a shining example of how age should never be a barrier to education.

"By completing his masters degree and now starting a new course, he's shown that older people can succeed as well as any other age group when it comes to learning new skills," he said.

However Mr Sinclair added that Mr Herzberg could be one of a lessening number of older people learning if the government continued to cut adult and continuing education.

"With an ageing population, educating older learners should be a top priority, not a target for budget cuts," he said.

"Sensible government policy should encourage senior citizens into courses which help maintain independence and a healthy mind instead of looking for cutbacks in local colleges."

Recent studies also support the continued education of the elderly, with some research suggesting that mental tasks and alertness can help keep Alzheimer's disease at bay, and that social interaction in the learning environment prevents depression and suicide from occurring.