Learning of Older Adults in Community (Editorial) Sabina Jelenc Krašovec and Valentina Hlebec
Summary: Population aging and, consequently, the emergence of elderly societies in developed western countries constitute a reality that demographic, social, economic, and educational policies have been addressing ever more directly at both national and supranational levels. The fact that the year 2012 has been declared the European Year of Active Aging and Solidarity between Generations testifies to the awareness that these are issues concerning the whole population, that is, all generations, and that they have a relevance that reaches beyond the borders of nation states. The year has been marked by many activities intended to raise awareness and to change attitudes towards old age, aging and the elderly – nothing new per se, since the field has already been developing for some decades, as a number of scientific publications will demonstrate (see, for instance, Hlebec 2009; Hlebec et al. 2012; Kump and Jelenc Krašovec 2010; Licen and Gubalova 2010; Ramovš 2003). In Slovenia, the year 2012 has included an international scientific conference organized within the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA), more specifically the ELOA (Education and Learning of Older Adults) network, called “Intergenerational solidarity and education of older adults in community”. The research findings presented at the conference concerning older adult education and intergenerational education, in connection with aging and the role of different activities in the process of older adults’ participation in community and society as a whole, suggest that learning and education – as important supporting and accompanying activities – are gaining an especially relevant place in the provision of activities for the elderly (Jelenc Krašovec and Radovan 2012). Despite the very rapid development in this area of expertise, older adult education remains a marginal activity politically. Its marginal position is reinforced through insufficient funding of older adult education, as well as inadequate legal regulation of the field. Conclusions reached by various authors suggest that this is characteristic of several European countries (Findsen and Formosa 2011; Withnall 2010).