50plus Hellas provides free ICT training to older people
As in other countries, older adults 55 to 74 years of age are now the fastest growing group of Internet users in Greece, with numbers exploding from 8% in 2009 to 31% in 2016 (Eurostat, 2017) During the past four years 50plus Hellas has been providing training on ICT to older people with the support of a national telecommunication company, COSMOTE, and local authorities. The largest and current programme, ACCESS TO THE DIGITAL WORLD programme started modestly in 2012 with classes in one Athens Municipality, expanding steadily to its present coverage of 11 Municipalities in the wider Athens area. Over 2500 older people have completed the free courses (June 2012 - Dec. 2016) and received their diplomas and within 2017 nearly another 5000 will become “digital”. The success of the programme came from the cooperation of 50plus Hellas with OTE Group and its subsidiary Cosmote SA, the largest telecommunications provider in Greece and with the various local authorities. The commitment of the funding body, the trained and experienced tutors, the good management and expertise by 50plus, a printed guide to foster self-study at home, a scientific evaluation and the fact that the course was free - essential during this long period of cumulative economic crisis- help explain its continuing success and gradual expansion. It helps in counteracting the persistent social exclusion experienced by older Greek adults, in encouraging their cognitive development and promoting more positive images of active ageing.