Worldwide, the location, family and socio-economic circumstances in which children are born into largely determine their future educational outcomes and ultimately their options in life. Because of this, too many people are falling short of realising their potential. Italy is no exception: challenges within the current education system, socio-cultural norms and growing socio-economic in- equality are leading the public education system to fail an ever higher number of young people, particularly in low-income communities. Yet education remains the best tool able to allow young Italians to climb the socio-economic ladder.
A systemic lack of investment: Italy’s expenditure for education continues to be among the lowest in the OECD (3.9% of GDP versus a medium of 5%). Italy’s teachers are some of the oldest in the European Union and they are underpaid, undertrained and under- valued compared to their peers in Europe (EUROSTAT, 2017). Notably, many educational districts have to deal with a chronic lack of teachers, which forces too many schools to start the academic year with empty classrooms, particularly in the fields of math and science.
Need to reform outdated systems: The Italian education system continues to look backwards, while society, the economy and what is required of today’s students to succeed, and work and become full members of society continues to change. Italy has one of the highest rates of students who drop out of school in Eu- rope. Low economic growth and high unemployment means that most of these young people cannot and work. Not surprisingly, Italy also has the highest number of youth who are not in employment, education nor training (NEET). This is a self-reinforcing problem that continues to fuel a cycle of poverty and marginalisation that education should be able to break.
Break the cycle of inequality: In the last twenty tears, as poverty and inequality in Italy have increased, investment in public schools has decreased. Because of this, too many young people are being left behind without the skills, knowledge, and experience they need to adapt to a changing global economy and determine the course of their future. It’s a cycle that we’re determined to break.