Between masks and the Cyrillic alphabet: ‘School responded’

First was the pandemic, which knocked on the doors of classrooms for the third year in a row. Then came the war in Ukraine, with the need to place hundreds of students in the school system within days. “We can say that the school has gone beyond the crises and rediscovered its role as a reference point for the whole society,” said the director of the Department of Education, Culture and Sport (Decs) Manuele Bertoli, preparation of the balance sheet for the school year ending tomorrow. A year marked by the need to know how to quickly adapt to new circumstances, and which, said DECS leaders with a touch of pride, “took place completely in presence. In the end, the decision not to close schools in the first months of 2022 proved to be a good decision “.

‘Absence above average only in early January’

The most difficult transition when it comes to the pandemic took place during the winter months, when the Omicron variant took hold. “At the beginning of January, the absence rates were 7-8% due to quarantines and isolation. A situation that made us for a short period also introduce the compulsory mask for primary school students “, Bertoli explained. “The rest of the year, on the other hand, the absence was on a par with normal periods, around 3-5 per cent. We hope that in the future, in the event of new pandemic waves, we will also be able to keep the school present at all times. “

‘More than 640 students integrated and the work continues’

The second “peak” of stress for the department came in March, when the war in Ukraine prompted thousands of families to seek refuge in Switzerland. “When one crisis ended, another began immediately. Our work has focused on guaranteeing regular school integration with medium-term prospects, ”said Bertoli. More than 640 children have found a place among the Ticino classrooms, and another part will instead be introduced by the beginning of the school year 2022-23. Some numbers: about 110 go to kindergarten, 260 to primary school, 170 middle schools and 100 compulsory positions. «The commitment will also continue during the summer – continues the director of DECS -. With intensive Italian courses. Over 200 teachers have made themselves available and enrollment exceeds 400 units ». Knowledge of the language, the authorities have repeatedly repeated in recent months, is considered a goal to be achieved as soon as possible.

‘Monitor and include, we do not want to lose children on the street’

A novelty in the just concluded school year is also the statutory education, which concerns all young people residing in Ticino. It does not correspond to compulsory schooling. But it requires that every young person has a concrete education project ahead of them. “The first challenge was monitoring. Understanding what young people between 15 and 18 are doing,” explained the DECS coordinator and director of the school department Emanuele Berger. There are about a hundred really problematic cases “for which a specific alternative must be built”. Another service launched in September last year is school counseling in situations of possible abuse or sexual abuse of minors. “These are specialized staff who support teachers in case of need to help victims or potential victims.” The progression of creating inclusive classes also continues. “We currently have 36 and we are aiming to reach the 50. It is a common teaching that is increasingly in demand, also a sign that the culture is changing”. And to facilitate the transition to the education of the future, the focus is on digitizing institutions: «15 places will be digitized during the summer with interactive whiteboards and wi-fi. 12 institutes have already undergone this intervention “. All before the resumption of teaching, which takes place on 29 August.

Placement campaign: start the year with a bang

He can smile too Paolo Colombo, director of the department of vocational education. The first results of 2022 of the placement campaign actually registered 566 signed contracts, an increase of 21% compared to the same period last year. The figure is also higher than in the years leading up to the pandemic, “there is satisfaction, but we must not fail our guard. We are only a third of the way up.” In fact, the data presented show that there are still 889 vacancies. therefore no work.

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