Presentation of EFI-Program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Zur?ck zur ?bersicht

The ISAB-Institute participates in the 18th World Congress of Gerontology in Rio de Janeiro and presents its program “Experience Knowledge for Initiatives (EFI – Germany)” to an interested audience of scientifics and representatives from all over the world

In June 2005 the 18th World Congress of Gereontology, titled “Active Aging in the 21st Century – Participation, Health and Security”, took part in Rio de Janeiro.
In addition to a large variety of topics such as health, care or geriaterics new research areas were discussed, one of special interest being civic engagement.

1. International Symposium: “Lifelong Learning and Active Citizenship in an Aging Society: European and Northamerican Best Practices”

Four international programs meant to encourage civic engagement of senior citizens were presented:

- EFI-Program (Germany)
- Legacy Leadership Institutes (USA)
- SESAM Academy (The Netherlands)
- Training for Senior Citizens Consultants (Belgium)

Jack Steele from the United States made some prefatory remarks, consting that at present 10% of the worlds population are of age 60+. This percentage will have doubled by the year 2050. These demographic changes do challenge us, but in some good ways, too: there lies a great potential for volunteering and civic engagement.
The following models, including the EFI-Program, are indirect service models. They encourage and reinforce the civic engagement of older citizens by advising and supporting local non-profit organisations.

“Building Legacies: Models of Active Citizenship for Community Sustainability” by the Legacy Leadership Institute from the United States connects new strategic social networks and volunteer infrastructures with the personal development of the participants (keyword “Lifelong Learning”). For detailed information on the project see Building Legacies: Models of Active Citizenship for Community Sustainability“  

Joke Zwart represented the SESAM Academie. Pensionered former managers can qualify to be “SESAM Advisors” or “SESAM Coaches”. Eighty participants have passed through five courses since 2003. Unfortunately, there does not yet exist made a qualitative / quantitative evaluation of the program. For more detailed information see De SESAM Academie – Academy for Seniors and Society

Silke Brauers from the Cologne ISAB-Institute presented the german EFI-Model which showed to be one of the most extensive programs – concerning the number of active seniors as well as the make-up of the participant institutions, municipalities etc. Further, the EFI-Program was the only model that deliberately did not define the possible fields of action and role-profiles of the “seniorTrainers” beforehand. This is why the range of voluntary working fields and activities of the qualified seniorTrainers prooved to be very wide.

The fourth and last model project, presented by Els Messelis (Belgium), was the “Training for Senior Citizens-Consultans”. Since 1989, this program offers a training of 920 hours. The participants are tought the basics of Gerontology and social and communicative as well as educational and training skills. The programs aim is to enable volunteers and professionals to participate actively in local senior politics.

Finally, Joke Zwart gave an introduction to the new european cooperation project “LACE”.

2. Presentation “Viewing the aging population as a strategic resource in the voluntary sector”

Joke Zwart (Netherlands) and Silke Brauers (Germany) headed an open forum in which they gave an overview of the existing programs and suggested to consider senior citizens as an important resource for the voluntary sector. Civic engagement of senior citizens seems to be an uncared-for topic. The participants of the forum agreed on the fact that it should not remain so.

3. Summary and Outlook


Both symposia centered around the same key questions, especially concerning the EFI-Program: the on-going decomposition of the boundaries between gainful employment and voluntary work and the problem how to ensure the future survival of the existing programs.

The U.K, Brasil, Peru and India showed special interest in adopting the concept of EFI.

For further information see: