|This article is taken from the 1/2022 issue of Solidea Magazine, a publication promoted by the Mutual Aid Society of the same name and part of the network in our laboratory.|
Italy invests little in education policies: only in our country8.2% of public expenditure funds education, mod 9.9% of the European average. The lack of attention to the education sector can be considered as one of the factors exacerbating the problems in the Italian school, such as the low level of students’ skills and drop-out rates in high school. Not only that: several studies (eg Ciarini and Gianicola from 2016) suggest thatat an Italian school is not able to contribute to intergenerational mobility, because it tends to reproduce the original social inequalities. The students’ difficulties then move into the world of work, which gives rise to phenomena such as the increase in NEETswhich, in Eurostat’s estimates, is more than 2 million in Italy, making us the European country with more young people not studying, not working and not following education.
The pandemic has exacerbated these structural problems, which have now become emergencies due to inconsistencies in the opening of schools. In the first phase of closure, the school plan for 2020-2021 sought to stem the problem by promoting the school’s cooperation with local authorities, voluntary associations, the third sector and civil society (the so-called social education pacts). The intention was, on the one hand, to support the institutions in enriching the educational offer by making alternative spaces available to the schools and, on the other hand. “Provide a unity of visions for an organizational, pedagogical and didactic project that is also linked to the special conditions and territorial possibilities”.
The pandemic emergency has therefore provided an opportunity to re-establish in the debate on education policy the core of the education community: the idea, that is, that the school should be integrated into the community and ensure the young people the opportunity to experience the liberation and pluralism that stems from democratic participation in the area, and that it is at the same time the community itself that promotes educational initiatives.
The origins of the educational society
The idea of an education that is not only referred to the school environment but the responsibility of society as a whole was born between the 1960s and 1970s. Already in 1972 UNESCO Faure Report confirmed that it was no longer possible to delegate knowledge dissemination to the school understood as “A single structure, vertical and hierarchical, as a separate body from the company”: in short, it became necessary involve associations, local bodies, intermediary bodies and the whole reference area in education.
At the regulatory level, this paradigm shift was first made explicit with the delegated decrees on schooling from 1974, then with Presidential Decree 275/1999 on school autonomyautonomy to be taken into account “Cultural, social and economic context of local realities”. In recent times have reform of the good school (Act 107/2015) has gone further in this direction and promotes networking agreements between local schools (in paragraphs 70-72).
But what is the upbringing society?
We can define the upbringing society as thatset of collaborative relationships established and nurtured by local actors is committed to ensuring the well-being and growth of children and young people.
The topics involved in supporting the education community are all those operating in the area through various activities, with different purposes and intensity of action: parents, associations of different types, religious organizations, the third sector, companies and institutions. A crucial role is playedpedagogue, a figure that is inserted between the various actors to build connections and initiate the implementation of pedagogical activities. These people work together to ensure the achievement of a goal, namely protection of a common goodwhich can be school, education or the well-being of the youngest.
The collaboration can be formalized through the establishment of more or less structured alliances. An example is given by Training pacts, agreements between entities in the education community that undertake to carry out all the activities that serve to protect the education of children and young people. The management of the agreements is structured through co-planning processes, where the actors define specific roles and tasks. A basic precondition for the success of the agreements is that the students actively participate both in the proposed activities and in their design.
The most significant experiences
There spontaneous nature of the education community makes it difficult to trace all the experience gained in Italy so much that there is currently no data available on this topic. However, it is certain that the institution for Fund for Combating Youth Education Poverty has provided a driving force for the building of new educational societies.
The fund was founded in 2016 after the alliance formed by the funds of banking origin, represented by ACRI (Association of Foundations and Savings Banks spa), Third Sector (Third Sector Forum) and the government, leading to the formulation of a memorandum of Understanding. The agreement is then formalized in art. 1, §§ 392-393 in Act 208/2015. The purpose of the fund is to support “Experimental interventions aimed at removing barriers of an economic, social and cultural nature that prevent minors from fully enjoying the educational processes”. Initially, the fund was expected to have a three-year period (from 2016 to 2018), but in 2019 it was extended by the government by another three years.
The management of the fund is structured on to niveauer. The strategic direction is defined by a specific committee composed of various representatives of the Funds, the government and third sector organizations, together with experts from INAPP and EIEF – Einaudi Institute for Economy and Finance. At the operational level, it is responsible for the management of the fund and the implementation of the committee’s guidelines through the preparation of calls, allocation of resources and monitoring of projects Social Enterprise With Children.
Based on the fund’s resources, Con published in Bambini 13 calls for action to combat youth education poverty. The key principle of the initiatives is the idea that education is not only the responsibility of the school, but that it must involve the whole pedagogical community. In 2021, the Social Enterprise also created a specific call for proposals in this regard with two objectives: on the one hand to encourage the building and strengthening of new educational communities, on the other hand to promote the activation and participation of all local actors, in particular full involvement of children, teenagers and families who become the main characters and actors in the initiatives, no longer just recipients.
The sample of funded projects from the fund analyzed by the Demopolis Institute in the study “Italians and youth education poverty”, published in November 2021, shows the effect of educational societies on children and young people. According to the survey, the parents surveyed stated that students acquire self-esteem (60%), team spirit (56%), sense of community (55%) and respect for the rules (53%). 32% of young people also improve their professional commitment.
The importance of the educational community for young people
The creation of a network of actors who take care of the growth of children and young people is important for at least two reasons. The first is it the pedagogical community is able to fuse the explicit and intentional education that takes place in school with the implicit one that is known by going on its own territory: the involvement of young people therefore makes it possible to improve their skills with active citizenship and democratic awareness acting on the community. The second reason is that territorial networks are able to create a context full of opportunities for childrenmitigate the phenomena caused by the weaknesses of the Italian education system, such as school dropouts and the increase in NEETs.
Encouraging the creation of new educational societies thus becomes one basic steps to be able to promote the education of young people and their participation in the democratic life of the country.
To know more
- Carletti C. (2021), Building educational communities. A new formative alliance between the natural, cultural and digital environmentin Mangione GRJ, Cannella C., De Santis F. (edited by), “I Quaderni della Ricerca”, 59. Turin, Loescher Editore.
- Ciarini A. and Gianicola O. (2016), Education policies in Italy: between exogenous pressures, endogenous changes and persistent inequalitiesin “La Rivista delle Politiche Sociali / Italian Journal of Social Policy”, 2/2016, pp. 61-88.
- European Commission (2020), Education and training monitor 2020Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union.
- Costa M. (2017), The enabling control for the development of the school systemTRAINING & TEACHING, vol. XV, pp. 165-178
- Grion V. and Dettori F. (2014), Student Voice: new paths for educational research, In M. Tomarchio & S. Ulivieri (Eds.), Militant pedagogy. Rights, Cultures, Territories, Pisa: ETS, pp. 852-857.
- Demopolis Institute and Social Enterprise With Children (2021), Italians and youth education poverty. https://www.conibambini.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Gli-italiani-e-la-poverta-educativa-indagine-Demopolis-18-novembre-2021.pdf
- Valenzano N. and Zamengo F. (2018), Practice to educate communities. Reflective thinking and common teaching spaces between adultsPedagogical Research, 208-209: 345-364.