State of school and pandemic: “67% of students reject father. And every other one has stopped hanging out with friends”

High school students reject distance learning: 67.7% of students prefer face-to-face teaching, and 70.2% of young people have more difficulty following distance learning. These are the first data from the survey of high school students conducted by Istat and referenced to 2021. The survey reveals a negative opinion not only about teaching, but about the whole period of rigid social distancing: 49% of the interviewees felt a lot of lack of schoolmates; the presence of friends decreased for 50.5% of the students, while the use of chat and social networks to communicate increased (+ 69.5% of the children).

50.9% of students had problems with the internet connection

The pandemic has also worsened the financial situation of families (a difficulty reported by 29.4% of young people), and 50.9% of students reported connection problems at home. The survey included a random sample of about 41,000 students (30,000 with Italian citizenship and 11,000 with foreign citizenship), who in the school year 2020/2021 attended one of the selected and distributed primary and secondary schools throughout the national area.

“Boys and girls experienced for the first time a completely new way of going to school while staying at home – Istat emphasizes in its report – almost all pupils from primary and secondary schools (98.7%, corresponding to over 4 million and 220 thousand “has in fact been exposed to periods of distance learning. The compulsory use of distance learning has also introduced new elements of inequality associated with pre-existing digital (and socio-economic) boundaries”.

With father disadvantaged foreign and southern students

Among foreigners, the percentage of those who were able to be constant in the frequency of online lessons is actually 71.4% compared to 80% of Italian children. “Schools have tried to support the most disadvantaged children by making PCs and tablets available, but the first results of the study clearly show that even after the first lockdown, it was not possible to completely close the gaps,” Istat emphasizes.

Especially in the school year 2020/2021, foreign children used the PC to follow the danger to a lesser extent than their Italian peers: the proportion is 72.1% against 85.3% of Italians. Foreign students therefore used mobile phones to a greater extent to follow the teaching (64.3% against 53.7%). The exclusive use of the smartphone concerned 16.8% of foreign children against 6.8% of Italians. For Chinese and Moroccan children, the exclusive use of mobile phones is much higher than the average for foreigners, around 23%.

There is a small gender difference: Girls (69.5%) support girls face-to-face more than boys (66.1%). The largest differences are again found between Italian students (68.3% prefer face-to-face teaching) and foreign students (60.3%). The proportion of children who prefer face-to-face education is particularly high for Albanian (64.4%), Romanian (63.1%) and Moroccan (61.2%) citizenship; on the contrary, the lowest percentage of face-to-face teaching preferences are counted for Chinese (44.2%) and Filipinos (52.6%).

Even after the pandemic, 31.5% of the principals thought that part of the teaching took place at a distance

Although the school leaders’ opinion of father is not entirely positive, it nevertheless seems that the greater use of technologies and remote communication as a result of the pandemic is an experience to be appreciated. 31.5% of the leaders want part of the teaching to take place at a distance even after the pandemic. In this case, the differences at the territorial level are not relevant, with a share in favor of distance learning ranging from 28.1% in the Center to 33.6% in the Northwest. That is what the Istat report stated.

On the other hand, the differences between school leaders and high school leaders are clear. Upper secondary school leaders are obviously more in favor of keeping some of the teaching at a distance: the proportion who assess it positively is 41.4% against 22.9% of upper secondary school leaders.

Of course, distance learning is certainly less complex to implement, especially if in part when it comes to older children, who are autonomous in the management of tools and in the performance of tasks. In general, however, it is desirable to make greater use of “digital materials, online libraries, movies, etc.” positive by 93.5% of managers; 85.6% would also maintain alternative forms of teaching, such as inverted classrooms or “inverted classes”, which provide for the active participation of students and the improvement of digital resources and social networks.

Social distancing has also resulted in the use of remote communication for a variety of school activities such as interviews and counseling. In this case, this is an experience that is highly valued by school administrators, who in 82% of cases would like to hold conversations with parents online; 78.5% of the interviewees would also like to hold remote meetings and teaching colleges, and over 70% would like to strengthen the distance interaction between students and teachers.

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