Active citizenship meets school autonomy, and a new page has been written for education in our country, finally enabled to work well in the field and radically intervene where early school dropout is stronger. A story made, so far, about lack of agreements, about unfulfilled good intentions (how many years have we heard about ‘educational societies’ and schools open even in the summer?), And which risks remaining so even after the award – contained in Decree 170 of June 24, 2022 – of the first 500 million out of the 1.5 billion that PNRR predicts.
Strong confusion among the members of the working group ad hoc, established by Ministerial Decree of 7 March 2022 n. 57 on the express mandate of the Ministry of Education, looking at the indications to curb the “cheap” allocations of funds and, on the contrary, promote a system of binding indications. We talked about it with Vanessa Pallucchi, member of the working group and currently spokeswoman for the National Third Sector Forum.
Dr. Pallucchi, your disappointment and the other members of the commission were translated into a genuine letter of protest to the Minister. What kind of answer are you waiting for, or has it already been given?
We expected the Minister to take seriously what we wrote in the indications for combating early school leaving in connection with the implementation of the NRP.
Due to the way in which the financing of schools has been arranged today, there is a risk that there will be precipitation while the working group had put a process of accompaniment and strengthening of the capacity of schools and territories to impact at the center. dispersion.
Of course, it was not a good start for Viale Trastevere to have poorly linked the processing times for your document with its own technical and administrative. We understand the difficulty of a central administration in a country like ours, but is it possible that the timing and intermediate comparison methods have not been specified? Or perhaps the misunderstanding of “non-binding opinions” (such as those of the CSPI, so to speak) continues?
I think what happened was a problem of timing, but also of political will. We were all well aware that PNRR requires extremely stringent timing, and also for this reason our indications were written with a view to an immediate operational plan. The working group expresses non-binding statements, but its constitution was requested by the Minister of Education, so we were ultimately sure that a fair evaluation would be made between the objectives to be pursued and the time available. Above all, a real confrontation would have been initiated, which was unfortunately lacking.
They are well aware of the problem of early school leaving in Europe. First of all, it is true that the EU bodies themselves have emphasized some specific restrictions on the allocation of funds, precisely in order to stem a distribution that does not take into account the specific territorial characteristics and a significant waste of money? In your opinion, does this indicate a marked knowledge of our national reality, or can we rather trace it back to the transversal presence of the phenomenon in other countries as well?
We take as our starting point the assumption that early school leaving is a problem that unites all European countries, even though Italy is in the forefront, unfortunately for the occurrence of the phenomenon. In order to find the right solutions, however, we must always consider the special conditions in the context in which we operate. In our country, the relationship between school and territory is crucial: Inequalities often lurk here, and therefore it is necessary to intervene here by integrating the efforts of various subjects that can responsibly act to combat school dropout. It is the whole community and not just the school that must take responsibility for building prosperity and pedagogical responses. Europe is asking us for a result that we all share: to reduce the number of children who lose their project for the future. It is up to us to interpret the parameters set by the European Union and adapt them to the contexts we want to transform.
You were particularly surprised by the simplification of the criteria you identified (not only Invalsi results but also the number of students absent, incidence of foreign students, incidence of students with special needs, adults with low cultural level, presence of young nets , presence of large and potentially needy families) and the justification given. Can we get back to this point?
That is what we are hoping for. To elaborate on the context in which the action falls is the basis for its effectiveness and to have detailed data and analyzes available, it seems natural to take these as a starting point.
For example, almost 60 million euros of this first tranche were allocated to Lombardy, spread over almost 400 institutions. We do not doubt that critical questions and pockets of marginality can also exist there, but we are still talking about one of the richest regions in Italy and with an already well-established associative substance.
However, living in a region that is “richer” than others does not mean being protected from phenomena that greatly affect school dropouts, such as integration difficulties or young people’s discomfort, which have taken many new or acute forms, especially after the pandemic. Dropouts are linked to the financial situation of families, but also to many other social and individual factors.
It is also true that, from a cultural point of view, the most disadvantaged areas are also those where the third sector is less present, less active. What intervention plans for these ‘maximum crisis’ areas?
I would rather say that in these areas there is often only the third sector and little public intervention. Let us e.g. think of small towns: often a band, a proloco, a community identifying places and a point of reference for socializing, even for young people. In these areas in particular, the aim is to build integrated actions that recognize the role of the third sector through co-programming and co-planning, so that the energies of a territory come together to provide effective responses to the needs of people and society. . From this point of view, the reform of the third sector can allow a real change of pace, which facilitates networking and cooperation between several disciplines.
Could you illustrate one or two additional qualifying points in your work whose priority today must be very clear to the officials of the ministry who will put everything back in the game?
Dissemination of good practice in territorial education pacts is fundamental to us. Based on our proposal to the Ministry of Education, there is an integrated management model, based on a strong collaboration between school and area on building an educational community, which always has the school at the center, but which is in dialogue in a logical education system, even outside pensum. Furthermore, it is crucial that sufficient staff are made available in numbers and skills to accompany children at risk of dropping out of school in a direct and timely manner.
The letter sent to the Minister following the publication of Decree 170 specifically states a “question of question”: “how to promote coherent and permanent territorial alliances between schools, local authorities and the third sector in cooperation and equal basis take care of the maintenance over time of the educational communities on the example of best practice already at work in all parts of Italy? “. What response do you expect?
We expect that the way of working in the education pacts, which Minister Bianchi himself laid the groundwork for any reprogramming of education efficiency after the closure of schools due to the pandemic, will be the limit that we will move with conviction to win proliferation challenge.