6.10 Current debates and reforms
The 'Good School' reform
In the last decade, also in accordance with European objectives, the focus of education policies in Italy has been on combating school drop-outs, fully realising school autonomy, the quality of the education system, raising the skill levels of students, combating inequalities and guaranteeing the right to study and equal opportunities in training and education.
The most recent reform of the national education and training system is contained in Law No. 107, approved by Parliament in July 2015. Law 107 (known as 'La buona scuola'), regulates several aspects of the education system, in particular the autonomy of school institutions. Some of the provisions contained in the law have been implemented gradually through the approval of specific provisions. Law 107 also contains a delegation to the Government to adopt eight legislative decrees on school education and early childhood education and care. The final texts were approved on 13 April 2017.
The education and training system reform process
From 2003 onwards, the Italian school system has been affected by three reform projects which have raised a wide debate within and outside the school world.
In 2001, with Law No 53 of 28 March 2003, Letizia Moratti, the new Minister of Education, abolished the previous Berlinguer reform and made several changes to the school system. These included the introduction of English studies in primary schools and the use of computers from the first year, the 5th year exam was abolished and a two-year assessment was introduced in its place. In secondary school, alternating school and work experience was introduced in vocational schools and the possibility of changing course without losing the previous school years but taking an exam on subjects not covered in the previous school.
In 2007, on the initiative of Education Minister Giuseppe Fioroni, compulsory schooling was raised to 10 years and, in any case, until the age of 16. As a consequence, the age for access to employment was raised to 16, as provided for in Article 1, paragraph 622 of Law No 296 of 27 December 2006.
In 2008, the new Minister Mariastella Gelmini initiated a new reform of Italian education. Among the changes that were most talked about at the time, there was the reintroduction of the optional normal time and the single teacher, the conduct grade and the tenth grade.
In 2015, with Law no. 107 of 13 July 2015 promulgated during the government of Matteo Renzi, among the many interventions, the duties and powers of school leaders were raised and school-work experience was made compulsory in higher education institutions.
As of the 2014-15 school year, Provincial Centres for Adult Education (CPIA) were established. They inherit the functions previously carried out by the Centri Territoriali Permanenti (CTP) and by the schools hosting evening classes. They are aimed at adults, including foreigners, who have not completed compulsory education and who intend to obtain the final qualification in the first cycle of education; adults, including foreigners, who have obtained the final qualification in the first cycle of education and who intend to obtain the final qualification in the second cycle of education; Adults, including foreigners, who intend to enrol in literacy and Italian language learning courses; young people who have reached the age of 16 and who, having completed their first cycle of education, prove that they cannot attend daytime courses.
Law no. 92 of 2019 introduced new rules on citizenship skills. It states the need for schools to strengthen collaboration with families in order to promote behaviour based on citizenship that is aware not only of the rights, duties and rules of coexistence, but also of the challenges of the present and immediate future, also by integrating the co-responsibility education pact and extending it to the primary school. An integral part of this intervention regards the development of 'digital citizenship' skills, which refer to an individual's ability to make a conscious and responsible use of virtual means of communication.
In general, the reforms of the education and training system have always followed the procedures and processes laid down by the Constitution for the exercise of the legislative function, which is exercised collectively by the two chambers: each bill submitted to one of the two chambers is examined by the committee responsible for the subject and then by the chamber itself, which approves it article by article and with a final vote. The Government may exercise the legislative function by means of legislative decrees or decree-laws in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. In the case of legislative decrees, it is Parliament that confers on the Government, by means of a special delegation law, the task of issuing legislative decrees with the force of law, in accordance with predetermined principles and criteria and for a defined period of time. Decree-laws, on the other hand, are adopted autonomously by the Government and under its responsibility to deal with unforeseen situations that require immediate legislative intervention. In this case, Parliament reserves the right, within the following 60 days, to convert the decree into law, even with amendments. Otherwise, the decree-law lapses. The Government then implements and supplements the legislative provisions by issuing Regulations. The main actors in the decision-making process in the education sector are the ministries responsible for the various sectors of the education and training system for the areas under their jurisdiction.
For what concerns the most recent debates, in the PNRR its foreseen the qualitative improvement and the quantitative expansion of educational services, starting from the strengthening of nursery schools, kindergartens and services of care and education for the infants (with the creation of 152.000 places for children up to 3 years old and 76.000 for those from 3 to 6 years old), the strengthening and update of the school infrastructures with, for instance, the internal wiring of 40.000 school buildings and the creation of new generation classrooms. The Plan invests in the structural recovery of the school buildings, with the objective of restoring 2.400.000 square meters of surface and in the recruiting and training processes of teachers, strengthening the education of STEM subjects.
There is also the development of professional and vocational education and of the supply chain for research and technological transition. Moreover, it has been envisioned a reform for orientation, for doctoral programmes and degree courses, i.e., with the update of the discipline concerning PHDs and their increase of around 3.000 units.