Destinations Magazine

A Class Divided

By Stizzard

TWO big obstacles face the reform-minded Italian government, headed by Matteo Renzi: a mistrust of competition and selection, and a fear of change that may worsen existing problems, like nepotism. Both impulses are threatening a plan to upgrade Italian education.

The country’s current school results are mixed. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) organised by the OECD, a rich-country club, compares the performance of 15-year-olds in maths, reading and science. In the most recent 2012 survey Italy’s teenagers were below average for all three, but not drastically so. Yet in another OECD survey, Italy was lowest or second-lowest in a group of 20 countries assessed for proficiency in literacy and numeracy among its 16-24-year-olds.

Whatever the base, improvements could boost productivity and perhaps reduce Italy’s youth unemployment rate of 43%. Yet a bill to reform the system has prompted three national strikes and could cause defections from Mr Renzi’s troubled centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

On May 20th the proposed law survived its first big parliamentary test when it was approved in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house. It has yet to be endorsed by the Senate. Among other things, the bill offers financial rewards for the best teachers; promotes collaboration between schools and workplaces; allocates €4 billion ($ 4.5…

The Economist: Europe

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