Berlinguer reform: as the Italian school approached the pro-European ideals

Today Luigi Berlinguer turns 90, a respectable achievement for a cultural man whose name will remain entrenched in an attempt to school reform hastily liquidated as a “reform of cycles”, but which marked a turning point in the Italian school, the consequences of which can be recorded even today. As always in these cases, light and shadows. It was him – Minister of Education of the first government of Romano Prodi (later Massimo D’Alema), from 1996 to 2000 – to build architecture and conditions for a change that in its substance never took place, but which also served to introduce some of the flaws, as they have been there for twenty years corrosive from the inside.

The Berlinguer reform consisted of two key measures, about which our country’s new school should have been articulated: Framework Act 10 February 2000, n. 30 on reordering cycles and higher education, Act of 10 December 1997, n. 425 amendinggraduation exam. The DM implementation regulation will then be withdrawn by the new minister Letizia Moratti en Silvio Berlusconi revived the elections in 2001. In 2003, Moratti will always abolish both and replace them with his reform, the three I.

Back to the Berlinguer reform, via the subdivision between primary, secondary and secondary school, in favor of an articulation of “cycles”: seven years of primary or basic cycle (from 6 to 13 years) and five of secondary cycle (from 13 to 18) , withcompulsory education set to 15 years, ie at the end of the second year of the secondary cycle. For those who do not continue their studies until maturity, vocational training organized and administered by the regions, up to adulthood. Basically, the traditional school road was compressed into two school orders and shortened by one year; the term is maintained to 18 years, so the university for those who want and can. In practice, primary and secondary schools were combined and reduced from 8 to 7 years, higher divided into two two-year courses, the first with many common teachings, the second more specifically and a final year of maturity at the end of the course.

The third important leg of the reform is the university’s creation of “point grad”(3 years for the short plus 2 years for the candidate); it was presented in 2000 by the then Minister Zecchino, but in total context with Berlinguer, who had worked on it during the period when he was both Minister of Education and Minister of Universities. The reform of the university it went onthat the school remained at stake, overcome and annulled by the two Moratti Acts, March 28, 2003, n. 53 and November 4, 2005, n. 230, which are substantially in force even today with the corrections made by Minister Gelmini then made, that of the tunnel between Switzerland and Abruzzo, where the neutrinos pass.

The Berlinguer reform was indeed the daughter of the mood and culture of the time: Italy was in the midst of pro-European momentum generated by the then imminent introduction of the euro. The school reform was presented as the necessary tool to modernize society, introducing concepts and themes that are dear to neoliberal thinking widespread, such as the processing of knowledge (educational points, school / work …, competitive assessment of teachers), the dependence on curriculum choice on industry needs, the equalization between state and equal schools, both qualified as public schools and located on the same floor.

The fable of “profit” it took the place of the values ​​of integration, subsidiarity, didactic and pedagogical experimentation as a tool to make schools and communities grow. As if the school repositioned itself by cutting into the extremes: To the poorest a little support in a school without experiments, to the wealthy the private school system that became “equal”, equal to the state. The encyclopedia also changed to denote what the school was to become. For example, the “principals” (the one who leads, it is assumed, a community of thinkers) and the “didactic leaders” (who lead the teaching) become “school leaders”(Bassanini 2000 reform), framed in the executive roles of the state and equipped with powers and tools that already collide with the management and care of a school community.

Yes, Europe. It then seemed the beginning of a real one New era: The single European currency would have served as a scaffold for the new EU and opened a season of reforms that would have led, if not to the realization of the United States of Europe, destined for greater integration between countries and peoples. There was a lot of talk about the common European army and itpolitical integration it really seemed to be just around the corner, along with the enlargement of the EU, which Prodi, President of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004, worked hard on. The Berlinguer reform was also presented as a necessary adaptation of the scholastic institution to the prevailing systems of the EU, from the age of access to universities to the formalization of another middle school, which is considered by many to bethe weakest link of the Italian school system.

They were the times toofederalist euphoria and the need to create order in the system of autonomy that had been created by the reform of Title V (2001) of the Constitution, desired and promoted by the center-left, which was under the illusion of removing land under the feet of the League. The school was also included in the group of institutions where autonomy was recognized, which with its Pof (education offer plans), then Ptof with the addition of territoriality, “provides the opportunity to give the school service flexibility, diversification, efficiency and effectiveness and achieve integration and the better use of resources and structures, including through the introduction and dissemination of innovative technologies “(Miur). Thus Art. 21 in Bassanini (the same law, according to which the regions of the Center and the Nordic countries today require an extension of the issues of exclusive regional competences) formulated the question on school autonomy, setting its boundaries and identifying the bodies involved, specifying their competencies.

Many of these aspects will end up being an organic part of the Berlinguer reform, e.g. regional competence exclusively in the field of vocational training – delegated to private agencies for trade union or confindustrial emanation – and ways to begin work on the usual consequences of scandals and robberies, catastrophic bankruptcies, ghost courses.

Before Moratti dealt with the implementation of the Berlinguer reform, positive appreciations they were linked to the idea of ​​a new school that understood to synthesize plural approaches, interact with society and become the engine of initiative and educational planning with local institutions, above all the municipalities. The organizational and cultural coherence of schools and companies was questioned by creating changing school / work paths that were not mere exploitation and history has confirmed it. The idea that compulsory education was raised to 18 years was appreciated (without writing clearly if it was compulsory education), much less the termination of combining structural reform with a thorough review of programsthe tools available to students in difficulty, updating teachers, their evaluation and improvement.

Thatcorporatization of an institution who had given the best of himself when the collaboration was the cornerstone, replaced by one competition consists of grades, ratings and profiles that evaluated the test and not the road; the legalization of technical institutes was opposed, an incomprehensible attack on one of the central schools of the Italian education system. Vocational training provided to individuals and training agencies affiliated with intermediary bodies was much debated back then: the state withdrew from the direct management of a sector targeted at most disadvantaged population and which at the same time had been the cornerstone of the boom in Italian industry, preparing operational personnel who contributed decisively to the work. About all this and much more, memory has almost been lost in this whirlwind of missed reforms, said and annulled, renewed and often consisting of cuts disguised as innovation.

The name of Luigi Berlinguer in the world of schools is inextricably linked with the great discussion about what the education system should become that came with the process of law; perhaps the last great correflection before Berlusconi’s triumph and of the complicit apathy which accompanied its splendor, to the right as well as to the left. A reflection that made it clear how powerful the massive bombing of the Berlusconi troops had been. Able, even in this important intersection, to dictate new value system dell’Italietta del 2000, so out of bounds that it is good for the right as well as for the left.

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