SCHOOL / Tradition and revolution hand in hand in the heart of Naples

It seemed headed for an inevitable closure, but instead it was reborn into a new life by gathering energies and resources around itself that no one would have imagined, to continue to carry out its educational mission in a difficult reality. This is the case with a historic school with over two centuries of life, at the center of Naples, L’The Bianchi Instituteruled until 2018 by the Barnabite fathers and now becoming “the new Bianchi” to mark the change of pace also in the name, without renouncing an important tradition for the city.

The protagonists of its relaunch are a group of alumni and the Grimaldi Foundation, is promoted by the well-known shipping group to which the school today belongs. In the Montesanto district, in one of the disadvantaged areas of the city, “a project that looks first at families” has taken shape, he says Carmine Esposito, entrepreneur, CEO of Epm Servizibut above all a former student of Bianchi.

Let’s start from the beginning. How did your involvement come about?

The project was born from the passion and love of a very close and close-knit group of alumni for their school. This had already been closed and we took it in hand after a long negotiation and reopened it after two years of stoppage. The religious institute that managed it also had the problem of selling the building that houses the school, a historic building from the 16th century in the center of Naples. This obstacle was overcome thanks to the intervention of the Grimaldi Foundation, which took over the building and allocated it partly to the school and partly to various social activities that had already started and were hosted in other areas of the city. Two complementary strands. Thus arose the project that we have called “Family School”. In practice, both the primary school and initiatives carried out in collaboration with some associations aimed at large families, disabled children and even the elderly living in the neighborhood have found their home inside the building, in separate rooms and without overlap. The management of the school is directly managed by our association of alumni called “Compagnia dei figliuoli”.

When did school start again?

We reopened in 2019 with a single class of 13 students. In 2020, Covid and Dad had a disruptive effect for us as they allowed us to highlight the strengths of our school for the presence of technologies, dual language teaching, etc. In full quarantine, all our classrooms were already set up for connections and all students were equipped with home equipment. Being ready for us has translated into a boom in registrations. At the end of 2020, we already had classes up to fourth grade. And in 2021, the primary school cycle was completed with all five classes. In the meantime, always in the same way, we have taken over another school, which runs from childhood to middle school, which was run by a religious institute that was in difficulties. These are the Neapolitan pious schools in the Fuorigrotta district, which today are part of our family together with Nuovo Bianchi.

How did you organize your school management?

Since we as an alumni association did not have the necessary skills internally, we turned to people, both in Naples and abroad, who could give us sufficient support. A collaboration was born with other peer schools that assist us in recruitment of teachers and administrative management.

Are you also planning to set up a high school course?

Yes, the project is there. We are thinking of a school offer that is complementary to the other institutes in the area, and which, with regard to the address, i.a. try to connect with the real demand for education present in Naples and increase the permeability with the world of universities and companies. The goal is to prepare our children for the challenges that await them. If it is true that most of the children who now start primary school will in twenty years be doing jobs that do not exist today, I think it is clear what the school’s task will be. Completely new skills will be needed. However, our idea is to form the upper secondary school with students who have already attended the previous school levels with us in order to maintain didactic continuity.

What was the companies’ involvement in the project?

In this project I represent the business world, while the Grimaldi Foundation was the first to support it in a very thorough way. And all this has meant that other professionals have gradually been involved in the initiative and given their support. On the part of companies, we have met increasing attention because the centrality of the theme of education and the importance of investing on this front has been perceived as a crucial opportunity to give our territory a future.

A school that does not only cater to a social class, but aims to be a presence in the neighborhood. How did you manage to maintain this trait?

Already in the previous management of the children’s fathers, the school has always welcomed children of all social classes with a positive exchange between families. In order to preserve this character, we as an association have drawn up a program above scholarships, which last the entire course of schooling, mainly financed by private companies in the area for the benefit of children from disadvantaged families. And for several companies, this has also become an aspect to highlight in their social or sustainability reports as a sign of attention to the territory and as a lasting choice over time.

(Piergiorgio Chiarini)

Watch the video about the Neapolitan pious schools in the Fuorigrotta district

Watch the video about the educational institution “The New Bianchi” in the center of Naples

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