The project LENA

Learning in the post-professional and empty nest phase


Our project has been funded by the European Commission and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Security, Generations and Consumer Protection.

LENA (Learning in the post professional phase) follows on from the completed LISA project (Learning in Senior Age) which took place under the European Action Line R3L. During LISA, educational networks consisting of representatives from different organisations and interest groups drawn from education, senior citizens, social policy, health care, women and ICT were established.

Using LISA’s national and transnational networks and with input from the key target group (older people), LENA seeks to develop a curriculum entitled “Education in Old Age”. The curriculum consists of individual modules developed by the participating organisations, using the experience of national target groups and services.

These modules will provide an illustration of themes and methods pertinent to specific target groups that will support the future planning and delivery of learning offers. Older people will participate in the development of the curriculum through the medium of focus group activity. Consideration of transnational practicability will be a major aspect of the design.

LENA is an inclusive project actively questioning how older people with no education and/or with different social, cultural or sex-specific needs can be effectively involved in educational programmes.

Duration of the project: October 2004 to January 2007.

In December 2008 the follow-up project LARA - Learning, a Response to Ageing started.



The LENA project partners from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and the UK have worked together on developing a new way of creating learning opportunities for older adults.

Taking as a starting point the shift away from teacher-centred towards learner-centred education the team has developed a pan-European approach to creating learning that engages older people at each stage of the process. The partners have focused particularly on the needs of older people who may suffer disadvantage of one kind or another.

The products are based on two years of work by the LENA project team.

LENA project material consists of two components. One is a handbook and the other is a CD with resources.

Download handbook:

LENA HANDBOOK, english language

LENA HANDBOOK, german language

LENA HANDBOOK, italian language

LENA HANDBOOK, portuguese language

LENA HANDBOOK, czech language

LENA HANDBOOK, slovenian language


More people are living longer. Currently 21 % of the EU population are over 60 years old. Gerontological research has identified education as one of the key factors in maintaining good health. Furthermore learning promotes understanding between the generations and has the potential to ease the generation gap.

Currently lifelong learning (LLL) is mainly applied to professional training. European senior citizens are, to a large extent, excluded from the sector. LLL should be available for older people as well as for the young and career reasons should not be the sole motivation for learning.

LENA follows up the completed R3L project, LISA – learning in senior age. The main task of LISA was to establish regional and transnational networks of organisations which had an interest in promoting and supporting older people. One outcome of the activity was to raise awareness about “LLL for senior citizens”. This awareness raising, together with the creation of the networks, has formed the basis for the LENA project. From the start, there was an intention to develop LENA as a follow-on from the LISA project in order to make the national and transnational networks available to the end-users, namely older people.

An informal opinion poll among end-users during LISA showed that older people wanted to participate actively in determining content and teaching methodology. Participating countries identified that although there are a growing number of older people in Europe there are very few educational programmes for the age group. There are even fewer programmes that have been developed in collaboration with the target group.


LENA wants to

  • open up LLL opportunities for older people
  • help society accept the older generation
  • oppose age discrimination
  • strengthen solidarity between the old and the young


LENA’s main task is:

to design and to put to the test a curriculum for older learners

Contributory tasks are:

to investigate the application of IT

to establish regional focus groups consisting of older people


To reach the aims of the project we will


  • work with focus groups to give older people a chance to participate in developing the curriculum
  • develop national modules for the curriculum
  • integrate the modules into a curriculum
  • test individual modules
  • provide a description of how the curriculum works



Main result:

A tried and tested curriculum for „Learning in Senior Age“ which works transnationally

Additional results:

  • An established transnational network
  • Established regional focus groups
  • A webpage as a transnational platform for „Learning in Senior Age“
  • A set of methods consisting of useful strategies and resources for teachers and facilitators


Members of the LENA project team:

GEFAS Styria, Austria

VHS Hamburg, Germany

USAL - Universidade Sénior de Almeirim, Portugal

LAEC - Leicester Adult Education College, United Kingdom

SSSA - Scuola Superiore Sant´Anna, Italy

ZDUS - Zveza Društev upokojencev Slovenija, Slovenia

ATHENA - Association for Education and Development of Women, Czech Republic

EURAG - European Federation of Older Persons