Demographic «trap» for the school of the future

CREMONA – From 15,376 students to 13,019: this is the prospect of demographic decline that awaits the Cremonese school population in the next 11 years. According to a demographic projection study conducted byprovincial statistical office, the students enrolled in the upper secondary school in the school year 2032/2033 could be well over 13 thousand. With a more or less marked possession of secondary schools and technical institutes and a gradual decline in vocational training and vocational education and training, with different values, but always with a view to a decrease of 2,357 students in a dozen years, given that the study of the province starts from 2021/2022. In secondary schools, it will go from 6,930 to 5,867 in 2032/2033, technicians will go from 5,892 to 4,989. The most penalized in this prospectus will be the professional institutes, which are destined to go from 2,225 enrolled to 1,884 and the vocational programs from 328 to 277. The decline in the school-age population is currently mainly affecting the group between 3 and 10 years of age. In fact, in 2013 there were 9,625 children enrolled at the provincial level, which dropped to 7,624 in 2020. More limited decline for the primary school, which in eight years has gone from 15,668 enrollments to 15,074. It is clear that this relapse – which starts from a growing denatility – is destined to have consequences for the courses after elementary school: middle school, high school and finally university or insertion into the world of work, with a possible radical change of forces in the field of the corporate world and not alone.

Alessandro Rosina, Full Professor of Demography and Social Statistics at the Faculty of Economics at the Catholic University

Trying to provide a way out of what is characterized as a real demographic trap is Alessandro Rosina, full professor of demography and social statistics at the Faculty of Economics of the Catholic University of Milan, where he also heads the Center for Applied Statistics in Business and Economics (Laboratory for statistics applied to business economic decisions). “The decline of the school population in the Cremona area, both from a forecasting point of view for secondary schools and as a phenomenon already underway for 3 to 10 years, is common to the whole country. And he must question all of us whether we care about our future – explains the teacher -. It is a downward trend that is beginning to take hold, and which tells of a quantitative rejuvenation that has never been recorded before. Therefore, there is a need to use a neologism to tell how much the birth rate risks changing our society in the not too distant future’.

And basically the need to know what the school population will be over ten years and to predict its trend can be a tool to rethink the school“But not in relation to saving and reducing resources

It is necessary to ensure that educational opportunities are increasingly at a high level to enable younger generations to build their own futures in order to revive population growth

– continues Rosina -. This is actually the temptation of many administrations, instead we should go in the opposite direction. Contrast quantitative rejuvenation with a strong investment in the education of young people, in terms of the quality of the offer. It is necessary to ensure that educational opportunities are increasingly at a high level to enable the younger generations to build their own futures in order to revive population growth’. To do this, the second important point is to work with conviction on the 0-10 year range of services: “So that the reconciliation between work and family time is increasingly improved, so that women can work without abandoning motherhood, counting on a truly effective reconciliation system that guarantees the family and its relational dynamics. These policies could put an end to the death rate, but we are in the perspective of long-term investments that must be made in order not to reach the point where the negative demographic trend is not irreversible ». Another aspect that must be developed in perspective is the real integration of immigrants: «Real integration must be created for those who have chosen our country to live, ensuring full integration for children of immigrants born in Italy – continues Rosina -. In all circumstances, to try to free ourselves from the demographic trap that the low birth rate is followed by a low investment in young people and in the productive segment of society, with the result of not interrupting the lack of newborns, it is important to invest in young people. Both from a training and service point of view. And this applies to the areas as well as to the whole country, because only in this way can we think of avoiding an irreversible aging of the population’.

The Cattolica statistics professor notes: «In light of a drop in students, lthe key will not be to dismiss buildings because they are oversized for the school population, but to reduce the number of students per grade, think of a higher quality education to provide tools and opportunities for realization to the younger generations so that they can return to having children and reverse the rejuvenation curve. Neologism that tells of an unprecedented phenomenon in human history”.

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