5.7 “Learning to participate” through formal, non-formal and informal learning
In Italy, the development of social and civil skills is for the most part entrusted to schooling.
The Ministry of Education and Merit (ME) offers schools a reference framework for preparing an educational offer that enhances education in civil society and legality.
In order to implement the guarantees that the constitution of the Italian republic provides, these are the educational paths for the full development of the person and citizenship rights. Education for democracy and legality aims to make students protagonists, thus making them capable of exercising their rights and duties of citizenship.
The ME proposes, to schools of all levels and degrees, educational programs that can be carried out during the school year in the context of the teaching of citizenship and constitution (according to the provisions of Law 169/08 and article 1 paragraph 7 of Law 107/15). Specifically, these are courses about legality, education for active citizenship, control and stopping mafia and organized crime.
Law 92/19 introduced school education in civil education. Article 3 provides, among the reference themes for the development of specific learning skills and objectives, education in legality and stopping or fighting organized crime, knowledge of the constitution, and the institutions of the Italian state, the European Union and international bodies.
On the platform “Educazione Digitale”(Digital Education”), it’s possible to find a dedicated space for Civic Education;, where the most notable innovation is the introduction of two platforms for the two chambers of the parliament: senatoragazzi.it and giovani.camera.it. On these websites dedicated to young people it’s possible to find the news on projects and activities promoted in institutional offices, at schools, or in the area, and information on how to participate, together with in-depth studies, study materials, useful links, educational paths as well as multimedia resources useful for promoting knowledge of the two institutions and of the Parliament as a whole. Below some examples:
- The competition “From parliamentary rooms to classrooms”. Constitution lessons addressed to secondary schools, which can participate through the production of an original research work, of a multimedia nature, aimed at deepening the meaning and application in their territory of one of the principles of the Constitution
- The “One day in the Senate“ competition: visits and educational activities organized at the senate and the chamber of deputies;
- the “Senate & Environment“ project is aimed at the third, fourth and fifth year classes of upper secondary schools and requires students to identify an issue of environmental interest on which they believe it is appropriate to intervene, carry out a ‘‘ research, in-depth analysis and analysis in the forms of the fact-finding survey and prepare a conclusive document. The winning classes will also be required to draw up an address (resolution) to be presented in the Senate;
- the “Witnesses of rights“ project is aimed at the first and second grades of lower secondary schools and aims to make children understand the importance of human rights through a common reflection on the Universal Declaration approved by the United Nations General Assembly December 10, 1948. The winning classes will be invited to an awards ceremony at the Senate of the Republic;
- “I would like a law that ...”, is aimed at the fifth grade of primary schools and aims to make children and young people reflect on issues of interest to them and to make them understand the importance of laws and democratic confrontation, bringing even the youngest closer to the institutions and promoting their civic sense. The winning classes will be invited to an awards ceremony at the Senate of the Republic
- The “Training days“ allows young people to live a real experience of parliamentary life during which they visit the chamber of deputies, attend a session of the Assembly, meet the members of a parliamentary commission, with whom they discuss and further their research work, they receive information on the concrete functioning of the Chamber of Deputies and visit the Library
- The competition “Parlawiki-Build the democracy vocabulary” created by the chamber of deputies and MIUR for the fifth grades of primary schools and for the secondary schools, to illustrate some “keywords” of democracy through multimedia language. The works deemed most significant will be published on the website of the Chamber of Deputies in the section addressed to the youngest and then subjected to an electronic vote. The winning works will be invited to the final award ceremony at Palazzo Montecitorio.
In addition, the Chamber also continues its training activities on the territory in the schools of prisons through the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Chamber of Deputies and the Ministries of Education and Justice - Department of Penitentiary Administration (D.A.P.)
In addition, as part of the “The Chamber for Youth“ project, the following additional initiatives have been activated at the Chamber of Deputies:
- Constitution Lessons Project and Competition: the didactic-educational project on issues related to Italian constitutional history is aimed at all higher education institutions and is divided into a national level and a regional level, according to the methods indicated on the Ministry website.
- “Policy Game”: The Policy Game is a project born in 2017, promoted by ASP (Association of Political Sciences) and carried out in collaboration with the Chamber of Deputies with the aim of simulating all the phases of creation and approval of a bill.
The Policy Game project resumes in attendance this year after the simulations of parliamentary work took place remotely due to the health emergency for 2020 and 2021.
Non-formal and informal learning
Article 7 of Law 285/97 regulates the activity of the municipal councils of children, an instrument for promoting active citizenship. There are small differences between the municipal regulations governing the tasks and elective procedures of the Municipality, often carried out in collaboration with the schools in the area.
The councillors are usually in the order of twenty (divided by primary and lower secondary school representatives) and elect the president of the Children’s Council and the children’s mayor, always in accordance with the municipal regulation. Young people are called to plan and implement concrete actions, make commitments and take responsibility. They identify and suggest solutions to problems that affect the territory in which they live. They experiment with forms of democracy that promote their value and respect.
ANCI (National Association of Italian Municipalities), in implementation of the Agreements stipulated with the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Department for Youth Policies and Universal Civil Service (DPGSCU), promotes an administrative twinning initiative between Municipalities aimed at strengthening and transferring the best practices (also in the field of active participation) already implemented through the projects financed by the previous public calls in the field of youth policies.
The total amount for the 2019 call was about two million euros. the final conference Shake up your city” with the presentation of all the projects was held in Matera on 25th and 26th of November 2021.
At a local level, there are numerous citizenship education projects carried out by NGOs and associations, sometimes in collaboration with schools. By way of example, the initiatives promoted by Legambiente to raise awareness among young people about the protection of the environment, biodiversity and the climate and the educational courses on active participation and fight against the mafia promoted by Libera - Against the Mafias.
Quality assurance/quality guidelines for non-formal learning
There are currently no specific guides to ensure the quality of participation processes within non-formal education paths.
It is worth mentioning the recent presentation of the Italian translation of the ministers’ committee of the Council of Europe’s recommendations to the member states CM/Rec (2017) about youth work. The recommendations provide guidelines for an approach to quality non- formal education with particular attention to the role of the “youth worker”, agent and promoter of participatory community processes.
The document proposes precise recommendations to be applied at a national level to guarantee the quality of socio-educational work and the application of non-formal education.
In-service training of teachers is mandatory, permanent and structural (paragraph 124 of law 107 of 2015). Each educational institution defines the training activities in accordance with the three-year plan of the educational offer, with the results emerging from the improvement plans of the schools (provided by the regulation contained in Decree 80 of the President of the Republic, 28 March 2013), based on the priorities indicated in the national training plan. This plan is adopted every three years by decree of the minister of education, university and research, after hearing the trade unions representing the category (Cf. 6.2).
There is no permanent and structural training proposal for youth workers, but there are numerous training initiatives implemented at a regional level with the support of the third sector (Cf. 10).