Italy Q1 Education Update
Key developments in Italy's education system during the first quarter of 2019 are training for teachers in Italian state schools on exorcism, a new law banning unvaccinated children from schools, Italian education budget decreases, a partnership between the Italian Space Agency and the National Association of Natural Sciences to provide training for teachers to increase educational efforts in technical and scientific skills for students, and university protests against the privatization of university spaces.
EXORCISM TRAINING FOR TEACHERS
A program in Italy is training more than 200 teachers in Italian state schools on exorcism. The program was created by Italy's education minister who is a staunch Catholic. The exorcism course is offered by the Ministry of Education, targeting religious leaders and providing teachers with training in Vatican prayers of liberation, but are not intended to fully equipped educators to perform exorcism. They are trained to recognize signs of possession, including those that may be the result of youth addiction and cults.
There is opposition from some politicians who advise the government to concentrate on fixing dilapidated schools and provide basic learning equipment for students instead of promoting practices more associated with the Middle Ages. This reveals a particularly controversial type of interference that school teachers face from government officials.
REQUIRED VACCINATIONS FOR ITALIAN STUDENTS
A new law in Italy has banned many students from school who have not been vaccinated for multiple conditions, including “measles, polio, chickenpox and mumps.” The deadline for required student vaccinations was March 10th, 2019. Currently, children who do not have proof of being vaccinated are not allowed to attend school, and while older children from six to 16 years old are allowed to go to school, parents of those who remain unvaccinated may be fined $560.
The new law was introduced after an increase in the number of measles cases in Italy, and Italian officials have noted that the rates of vaccination have risen after a period of decline as a result of the new law. This is called the Lorenzin law, and a report from Italian officials have found that the law has led to an increase in the number of children immunized from below 80% to close to 95%.
LACK OF EDUCATION FUNDING
Italy’s short-term education budget for 2019 is currently damaging the sector. In order to deliver on election campaign promises, Italy's government has increased welfare spending, which has resulted in a reduction in funds for 2019 for other sectors like education, with a corresponding increase in the budget deficit for the country.
ITALIAN SPACE AGENCY PARTNERSHIP
A partnership was formed between The Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the National Association of Natural Sciences Teachers that is intended to support scientific and technical education. The program is primarily aimed at teachers who have close access to students, and will focus on developing science and technical training for teachers through real-life practical training. It is hoped that this will stimulate the interest of young people in scientific subjects, and will provide the skills and expertise needed in the modern world.
UNIVERSITY SPACE PRIVATIZATION
In February 2019, Italian students protested against the establishment of fast food outlets on campus premises. Protests initially started at the University of Turin, where McDonald’s and Burger King have set up operations. The students’ message is a call for higher state government investment in education. Due to decreased education funding, many university spaces have been opened to private/corporate entities that intend to profit off of basic needs of students.