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There is a brilliant dialogue in the ancient story Shikwang's Exhortations to Learning. The story goes that the Jin Emperor is already 70 years of age, and he tells Shikwang of his worries that he has already passed the time for him to learn. Shikwang encourages the Jin Emperor by raising the question “Suppose you go on a night walk – is it better to be in total darkness, or with the light of a candle?” This is to say that taking on learning when one is getting old is analogous to lighting a candle in the dark.

To return to the campus environment is both enriching and perfect for meeting like-minded people, allowing you to expand your social circle. In Hong Kong, there are a number of higher education institutions that offer courses in an “Elder Academy”, including the Open University of Hong Kong (Chinese only), City University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Chinese only), the Education University of Hong Kong (Chinese only), Lingnan University (APIAS) and Hong Kong Shue Yan University. Besides, many universities have set up “School of Continuing and Professional Education” that offers all kinds of courses to choose from. The choices are abundant, they include part-time award-bearing or certificate courses which allow you to obtain a professional qualification, and other interest-oriented short courses. The shortest courses are only one-day long, whereas the longer ones take months to complete. Institutions that offer these courses include the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Lingnan University, Baptist University, the Hong Kong College of Technology etc. The range of topics covered is simply massive – from finance, humanities, law, technology to science. Several of these institutions even offer online and off-campus learning, so you won't even have to leave the doorstep to start learning.

Casting our eyes overseas, the internet has truly transcended geographical constraints. Online learning is becoming increasingly popular and commonplace. Courses taught as far away as in the United States, Canada, Europe or Australia are merely a mouse click away. Most of these courses are taught using English. Some widely used platforms include “edX”, “Coursera” and “Open2Study”.

Aside from universities, there are numerous organisations out there that also organise educational activities. The Hong Kong Public Libraries host talks and workshops throughout the year that are suitable for our “Green Age” friends to participate in. The topics are diverse, they include but are not limited to reading, literature, culture and healthy living. Ask someone to come along to make it even more fun. In addition, welfare NGOs have also launched courses designed for the elderly in view of the ageing population, so that they could keep up with the times and have the chance for lifelong learning. For example, the Scout Association of Hong Kong (Chinese only), the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council and the HKFTU Hong Ling Society for the Well-being of the Elderly (Chinese only) provide a huge selection – close to 100 – of courses for “Green Age” persons to take their pick. For more details, visit this website (Chinese only).

During working life, there may be very little time to read one's favourite books or learn the subjects of one's interest. Life after retirement can be vibrant and colourful, as one can finally afford to follow the heart's desires. Age is definitely not a limiting factor when it comes to learning. On the contrary, having retired is the best time to kickstart a new and exciting journey of seeking knowledge!

Relevant websites:
CIHE Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Language and Liberal Studies
Diploma in Active Ageing from PolyU SPEED
- The Hong Kong Institute of Directors