School calendar in Piedmont: the special case of February 17

In recent days, what many have called a serious attack on freedom of choice and freedom of thought and on the autonomy of schools has taken place in Turin: disappears from the school calendar on February 17, the date of Waldensian society represents the commemoration of the granting of civil rights, which took place in 1848.

It was King Carlo Alberto who, 174 years ago, with the “Letters Patent” signed an important step forward towards tolerance and coexistence between people living in the same territories, citizens and citizens of the same state. In Torre Pellice, Luserna San Giovanni, Pomaretto, San Germano Chisone, Pinerolo and in many other small towns where a significant percentage of people are part of the Waldensian Church, the agreement with the feast of February 17 is decisive, the day we remember indeed the right to freedom, updated taking into account the many men and women who are still today in the world fighting for it. According to tradition, offices, public institutions and schools are closed on this holiday.

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Today The Waldenses in Italy number about 25,000 and they live mostly in Piedmont, but there are communities in Rome, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Trieste, Venice, and in other small and large centers of the peninsula. And descendants of the Waldenses live in various parts of the world, including North Carolina (USA), Uruguay, Germany, Switzerland.

The background: the circular of Giunta Cirio

Unlike previous years have The Regional Council led by Alberto Cirio last June 30, it effectively prohibited the schools of Val Pellice and Val Chisone to suspend classes on February 17.

Thanks to the school’s autonomy and according to Presidential Decree of 8 March 1999, No. 275, the teaching staff and the councils of the schools in the Waldensian Valleys have always decided to suspend school activities on February 17, as it is precisely the feast day of the Waldensian Church. In the 2022-2023 school year, we faced a barrier that had never existed before, a wall of rigidity and total incomprehension, without taking into account the strong historical-cultural reasons specific to the territory, which could more generally sensitize all. Piedmontese citizens must respect minorities.

The protests

The company’s position was immediately taken regional council member Monica CanalisDeputy Secretary Pd and the Mayor of Torre Pellice Marco Cogno who said “We appeal to President Cirio, but also to the Director of the Regional School Office of Piedmont, Stefano Suraniti, to correct the mistake and keep alive the plural form and welcoming spirit that has characterized our Piedmont for centuries. The suspension of the didactic activity on February 17 has an important historical, cultural and religious value for our area. Not giving the suspension would be a step back in history“. The mayor of Perosa Argentina, faced with the decision of Giunta Cirio, stated that he will personally sign the order to close the schools.

To also protestComprehensive Institute of Torre Pellicewho wrote a letter that ends with hope”that the Piedmont region may return to allow all school institutions to consider days of suspension of school activity based on documented historical-cultural reasons specific to the area in which they are located“.

The answer from the councilor for regional education

And the council, which with obvious superficiality had not only ignored the rights of the Waldenses, but had actually ignored the autonomy of the school, backed up. The protest votes have indeed had their effect, in fact the subsequent reply came from the councilor for education Elena Chiorinowho wanted to reiterate “autonomy schools, as everywhere, and therefore also in the valleys of the Waldenses, have the right to adapt to the calendar, in relation to needs arising from the expansion of the educational offer plan and to specific environmental needs. Therefore, schools can define projects linked to local traditions or events strictly linked to their own territory, thus adapting their school activities“.

The indications in the Regional Council’s circular were experienced in the schools in the Waldensian Valley as an attack on freedom of thought and tolerancedeclares the head of the Waldensian Liceo Professor Marco Fraschia, However, I think what happened was mainly a denial of the autonomy of schools in general.

The protest does not stop there, in fact it is being asked now the cancellation of the regional circularwhich has caused values ​​such as freedom, tolerance, peace to falter.

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