Adult learning centres in Spain make lifelong learning a reality

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By Carlos Marlasca
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Mari Cruz Alonso continues to look forward to attending class every week. She is an example of the advantages of adult education that UNESCO also promotes.

It is never too late to learn. This is a phrase that Mari Cruz Alonso applies in her daily life. At 92 years old, she still uses a notebook and pen to take notes in the adult classes she attends four days a week.

It's a testimony to her desire to never stop learning, a decision she made years ago: "I wanted to learn because I didn't know anything. In my village, when I was little, there was the war and I almost didn't go to school, there was almost no school, and when I got married, I dedicated myself to studying," she tells Euronews.

She is a student at the Casa de Cultura de Getafe, one of the seventy adult education centres in the community of Madrid. Among her colleagues, she is admired. José Luís Caballero is one of them: "I see her as a phenomenon, especially in mathematics. She likes maths a lot, she does multiplication very well. She knows the multiplication table better than I do."

In the classroom, they also learn languages and sciences. And there are also surprises on special days, such as Mari Cruz's birthday, when she had a surprise party and shared snacks with the rest of the students in the classroom.

According to the Ministry of Education, there are some 200,000 adult education students in Spain. About 10% of them are over 64 years old and most of them are women.

In addition to strengthening the mental agility of the elderly, teachers say these classes also serve as an outlet for a number of the students, many of whom experience loneliness. 

"The important thing is no longer that she is supported by the group because everyone tucks her in and protects her because she is the oldest, but that in the end it is reciprocal, everyone feels supported in anything that happens in their lives," explains Isabel Marín, one of the teachers at the Casa de Cultura de Getafe.

This year UNESCO has received  a commitment from 140 countries to make the right to lifelong education a reality.

Additional sources • Mario Bowden