In 1994, through the initiative of Professor Eclea Bosi, the Universidade Aberta à Terceira Idade (Open University for the Elderly) program started at USP, anticipating the promulgation of the Elderly Statute, whose chapter V, article 25, textually states: “The Public Authorities will support the creation of open universities for the elderly (…)”. The main objective of the program is to enable the elderly to deepen their knowledge in areas of their interest. In accordance with UN and UNESCO criteria, priority is given to ages 60 and up.
As the years went by, the initiative, which at first was a pioneering one at USP, started to spread, with the emergence of Open Universities in several other universities. Thus, the program adopted a more specific name “USP Open for the Elderly”.
However, in 2019, questions began to arise about the best way to refer to this public over 60 in a more inclusive and objective way, without value judgment, prejudice or negative charges. Considering that this public has been growing a lot, it increasingly represents a heterogeneous population, with great differences between the individuals that compose it. Thus, starting in 2020 the program will be called USP 60+.
From a quantitative point of view, such expansion reflects USP’s presence in the demographic web of the metropolis, where this age group is growing by leaps and bounds. From the point of view of the program’s quality, its success has to do with the constancy of the three principles that guide it.
The first principle is to provide the widest openness possible. The participant is only asked for his or her desire to learn. The choice of subjects is free, as is our constellation of interests when we free ourselves from the routine of survival.
The second refers to the ideal of the coexistence of the over-60s with undergraduate students. It is the opposite of the discrimination verified in society: young people on one side, older on the other. In this sense, USP 60+ is innovative, since the participants share the same classes with regular students. Experience has shown that young people come out of this coexistence with more mature people, both affectively and intellectually enriched.
Finally, the third principle is gratuitousness, a value that befits an institution that strives to maintain its public function.
Program Coordination: Dr. Egídio Lima Dórea