Drop-outs and poverty threaten Italian education

ROME – More than 1.7 million children drop out of education early in Italy and 1.3 million live in poverty, according to respective reports by Corriere della Sera and Save the Children that shine a damning light on Italy’s neglect of its young.

 Corriere’s Gian Antonio Stella took to the pages of the paper to lambast Italy’s politicians for their failure to address the issue, with the paper reporting that 28.5% of those enrolled in state schools don’t complete their time in study. It was estimated that over the last decade, the high drop-out rate has cost Italy €27.4 billion.

 Tuttoscuola’s Giovanni Vinci told the paper that no thought had been given “with respect to the social cost for the “marked” lives of these children without education and, therefore, in large part without a future” and he pointed to the fact that the unemployment rate for those leaving school without qualifications could rise as high as 45 per cent.

 Those calls were joined by a separate report from the Italian branch of Save the Children on “the impact of educative poverty on infants in Italy,” which suggested that over a million Italian children live in poverty.

 The report also detailed how almost one in five children don’t reach the minimum required standards in language or maths skills and that six in 10 don’t participate in any cultural, recreational or sporting activity.

 One of the highest groups of concern, Save the Children reported, were 15 year old boys from socially disadvantaged backgrounds who were four times more likely not to meet the minimum level of competency for their age group in maths, and five times more likely in Italian.

 The charity has opened centres providing free access to education in 12 of Italy’s poorest regions amidst fears for the long-term impact of the issue. It called for “a strategic plan for combatting material and educational poverty” and for wider changes than those currently proposed for education before the age of six.