Italian Education Context

The education system in Italy is organised according to the subsidiary principle and autonomy of schools.
The State has exclusive competence on general issues on education. Regions share their competences with
the State on education issues while they have exclusive competence on vocational education and training1.
The Italian education system includes:
Pre-primary school (Scuola dell' infanzia): Non-compulsory education for children between 3 and 6
years of age;
First cycle of education:
-Primary school (Scuola primaria)for children between 6 and 11 years of age;
-Lower secondary school (Scuola secondaria di I grado) for pupils between 11 and 14 years of age;
Second cycle of education
-Upper secondary school, (Scuola secondaria di II grado) made up of different kinds of schools
(licei, technical institutes and vocational institutes). Generally, for students from 14 to 19 years of
-Vocational training courses (IFP) are run by local authorities and can be attended by people who
have reached 15 years of age and completed the first cycle of education.
Post-secondary non tertiary education (IFTS)
Higher education offered by Universities, High level Arts and Music Education system (Alta
formazione artistica e musicale - Afam), Higher technical institutes, higher institutions.
Education is compulsory from the age of 6 to 16 including the eight years of the first cycle of education
together with the first two years of the Second cycle of education and training.
Teacher has a second cycle degree (laurea specialistica) to teach at every school level. Primary school
teachers can teach all subjects (are generalist teachers), but are responsible for a specific subject area.
Since 2001, school institutions have had an administrative, didactic and organisational autonomy, although
they belong to the National school system.
The school autonomy is regulated by a specific Regulation fixing its different implementations and providing
for guidelines on how each school shall draft its educational provision plan (Piano dell'Offerta Formativa POF).
At a central level, the education system is managed by the Ministry of Education, University and Research
(Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca - MIUR), responsible for education in all levels of
schools, both public and private.
At a decentralized level, the Ministry acts through the Regional School Offices (Uffici Scolastici Regionali USR) structured in territorial entities at the province level. The territorial entity at the province level, is in
charge of assistance, advice and support to school institutions as well as of the integration of migrant and
disabled students and, together with Municipalities, checks the compliance to compulsory school
Local administration is currently divided in two levels: province and municipality, with different
competences in terms of subjects and school levels. Both the Provinces and the Municipalities carry out their
functions in the field of education through specific Education Departments, coordinating the territorial
programming of the education and training provision.
Primary and secondary level schools are autonomous in terms of teaching, organisation and research,
experimentation and development. The head of the school institutions are known as School Headmasters.
They are in charge of the management of the institute and he is accountable for the financial resources.
Moreover, in compliance with the competence of school collegial bodies, they are entrusted with the
management, coordination and enhancement of human resources.
This report will focus mainly on primary education which is the field of interest of the CAREM project.
Primary school is compulsory, it lasts for five years and involves children between 6 and 11 years old. The
purpose of primary school goes beyond simple literacy. Primary school aims at promoting the development
of each student’s personality, the acquisition and development of knowledge and basic abilities, the learning
of expression tools, Italian and English languages, and the enhancement of relational skills, as well as the
education to the fundamental principles of civic coexistence.
Primary school was modified through a law decree in 2004 and again in 2008. These reforms introduced the
teaching of “Citizenship and Constitution”, the option of the sole teacher, the teaching of English and a
second European Union language, and IT study.
The didactic heart of the training provision plan (POF) is the curriculum, drafted by each institute building
on the National Guidelines provided by the Education Ministry. The institute curriculum is an expression of
freedom of teaching and school autonomy and, at the same time, explicates the choices of the school
community and the institute’s identity.
The curriculum is a unique project in which both the National Guidelines and the choices of individual
schools flow together to set up a relationship of cultural and didactic mutuality with the environment,
enabling students to learn to be and to learn to live. learning to learn and learning to invent.3
Indicazioni nazionali per il curricolo della scuola dell’infanzia e del primo ciclo
Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”
Via Roma n. 94 - 90133 Palermo, Italia
Tel: + 39 091 617 7252 - Fax: +39 091 623 0849
[email protected]
While designing the institute’s curriculum, the teachers have to identify the most effective learning
experience, the most significant didactic choices, the most relevant strategies, paying attention to integration
among subjects and their possible aggregation in disciplinary areas, in order to enhance a unitary and
homogeneous learning of the acquired knowledge.
The subjects provided for by the Guidelines during the 5 years of primary school are: Italian, English,
history, geography, mathematics, science, technology and IT, music, arts and images, physical education,
technology. On top of these, there is the teaching of “Citizenship and Constitution”, representing a crucial
objective that all the schools must consider in their training provision plan.
The choice and exploitation of didactic methods and materials must be consistent with the school training
provision plan (POF) that is designed in compliance with the educational objectives. Without prejudice to
the freedom of teaching, National guidelines for 2012 curriculum identify some basic methodological
• Enhancement of students’ experience and knowledge
• Promotion of exploration and discovery activities
• Encouragement to cooperative learning
• Awareness of one’s own way of learning
• Implementation of paths in the form of workshops.
As explained above, the schools draft their curriculum independently, complying with the national guidelines
set by the State, aiming to fix the learning objectives and their related achievements for children and
youngsters’ skill development.
The National Guidelines 2012 include the “Profile of competences at the end of the first education cycle”
including the achievements directly inspired to the 8 European key competences and applied to Italian school
1) communication in the mother tongue;
2) communication in foreign languages;
3) mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology;
4) digital competence;
5) learning to learn;
6) social and civic competences;
7) sense of initiative and entrepreneurship;
8) cultural awareness and expression.
The general objective of the Italian education and training system is allowing the students to acquire the
competences described in the profile.
Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”
Via Roma n. 94 - 90133 Palermo, Italia
Tel: + 39 091 617 7252 - Fax: +39 091 623 0849
[email protected]
At the end of the first cycle, the student will have to be able to express his/her personality, have a proficient
level of Italian and an elementary level of English so that they are able to talk with people of different
nationalities; he/she will be able to interpret environments, facts and art productions, and he/she will absorb
the sense and need of respecting civil coexistence. The student is at the heart of the educational action in all
its aspects. Cultural diversity is a defining feature of society, and it fosters school to educate to coexistence
and enhancement of each student’s different cultural identity and roots. The school shall train students to
become Italian citizens as well as Europe and World citizens.5
In order to give a European dimension to national education programs, Italian schools can access the
National Operational Programme (PON), funded by the European Commission and managed by the
Education Ministry. Thanks to this programme, each school can carry out some didactic workshops for
students and teachers on different themes (fight against school drop-out, environment, IT, equal
opportunities, etc.). These workshops are carried out outside school hours and represent paths enriching the
training provision. These projects represent a concrete follow-up of the lessons learned by the students in
class, and they also promote the spreading of a culture inspired to the values of equality and active
citizenship, limit school drop-out and promote teachers’ professional development.
“Arts and Image” in Italian schools
Arts and image is a subject introduced in 2003 through the school reform submitted by the Education
Minister Letizia Moratti. This discipline, that replaced Education to images in primary school and Arts
Education in lower secondary school, aims at developing and strengthening students’ ability to express and
communicate in a creative and personal way, to observe and understand the images and the different art
creations, to acquire their personal aesthetic sensitivity and an attitude of conscious attention towards the
artistic heritage.
Education to Arts and image should be characterized by a workshop approach through which the student
learns, from an early age, the key elements of the image language and, at the same time, he/she experiences
different approaches to works of art, also through direct experience on the territory and in museums.
Familiarizing with quality images and artworks raises awareness and strengthens creative, aesthetic and
expression skills in students, enhance their cultural background and contributes to educate them to an active
and responsible citizenship.
In order to make the subject contribute to the development of some aspects of student’s personality, its
learning needs to pass through an integration of different fields:
• sensorial
• language/communication
• historical-cultural
• expression/communication
• heritage
Indicazioni nazionali per il curricolo della scuola dell’infanzia e del primo ciclo
Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”
Via Roma n. 94 - 90133 Palermo, Italia
Tel: + 39 091 617 7252 - Fax: +39 091 623 0849
[email protected]
Diversity and inclusion in the Italian educational context
Nowadays the school is characterized by multiple diversities among pupils, especially concerning their levels
of learning, their individual attitudes, their specific emotional behaviors and cultural backgrounds.
Italian education system is based on people inclusion and culture integration, since it sees the respect for
diversity as a fundamental value. Therefore schools should design and carry out specific didactic programs,
aimed at answering to pupils’ learning needs, while paying particular attention to those with a migration
In Italy, in fact, the question of the integration of the “second generation” is still relatively new and played
inevitably in the school, where a certain number of problems exist. The Ministry of Education data show,
first of all, the growth of children of immigrants in the Italian schools over 90‘s: they were only 30.000 in
1992-1993. They are around 400.000 now, having had a growth of around 25% per year.6
The Ministry of Education has proposed several directives on intercultural education, but it is only with the
Law 407 passed on 1998 (art. 36), that the issue of education of foreign children has been dealt with a
comprehensive approach establishing the compulsory education for all foreign children, foreseeing initiatives
for the learning of the Italian language and promoting the protection of the language and culture of origin.
Despite the progress made, the Italian school still today tends to face the presence of children with a
migration background as an emergency and only in few cases it has an effective intervention plan.
Amongst the many challenges that education has to face is the struggle against discrimination and exclusion
regarding students with disabilities.
The education of students with disabilities is a strength of Italian educational system. From the first law
dated 1977 to the Legge quadro 104/1992 in fact, Italy took a different pathway than the other European
countries, passing a piece of anti-discriminatory legislation known as “Integrazione scolastica” (School
As a consequence of the application of this policy, several further guidelines has been issued by the MIUR8
in order to make Italian school as a welcoming community in which all pupils are welcomed regardless of
socio-economic background, physical and intellectual impairments, or of any other selective categorization
designed to segregate and exclude. Moreover, since the passing of this policy, teaching and learning
procedures in ordinary schools have sought to respond to all students’ requirements, in particular by drawing
upon specialised forms of teaching methods.
In thirty years of education of students with disabilities within regular schools, there have been many
But at present, cuts in school finances over the last few years have been weakening this potentially inclusive
system. Yet something is missing in order to achieve a real integration process: there are still barriers and
MIUR -ISMU, Alunni con cittadinanza non italiana. Approfondimenti e analisi. Rapporto nazionale a.s. 2011/2012, Gennaio 2013
Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”
Via Roma n. 94 - 90133 Palermo, Italia
Tel: + 39 091 617 7252 - Fax: +39 091 623 0849
[email protected]
The need for CAREM project
According to the National Education Guidelines, Italian schools are expected to promote specific actions and
inclusive strategies, in order to foster prevention and recovery from school drop-out as well as the inclusion
of disabled students or students with special education needs. For these reasons they should launch targeted
initiatives in collaboration with local authorities and other educational actors.
The CAREM project tries to respond to this need by bridging schools and partner organizations and by
promoting – at both local and European level - the collaborative art-making approach, so as to foster
intercultural education, reduce social marginalization and promote European citizenship within school
Collaborative art making is a creative process involving different people to produce a final work. The key
feature of collaborative art is that the focus is on the moment of creation instead of the fruition of the final
work. By using this approach in the school the students can try out the importance of working together and
sharing ideas, experiences, skills.
CAREM will develop and test special educational activities, pedagogic materials and strategies based on the
collaborative and participative art-making framework.
All these activities are relevant to the objectives fixed by the national education guidelines and they are
connected to the subject area of linguistics- arts-expression. Italian language, European languages, Music,
Arts, Body-Movement-Sports are the disciplines featured. Moreover, all the project’s activities are connected
to “Citizenship and Constitution”, which is one of the subjects provided in the Italian school curriculum.
The chart below shows some possible connections which have been identified among the activities
developed within CAREM project, the objectives listed in the national guidelines, the pertinent subject areas
and the Key competences in the European reference framework10.
Activities developed
within the CAREM
objectives/ Subject Areas
related guidelines
a)Group of activities: -providing support for the - Italian Language
Intercultural Education
construction of people’s
tolerance and self-awareness; - Music
EU Key-competences
KC1-Communication in
the mother tongue;
KC5- Learning to learn;
other - Arts and image
cultures, understanding and
comparing them to one’s -Body-Movement-
KC6-Social and civic
Di Nocera Maria et al. Una riflessione sui bisogni educativi speciali attraverso una ricerca. Dipartimento di Psicologia Dinamica e
Clinica. Facoltà di Psicologia 1 La Sapienza, Università di Roma. Numero: 10- giugno 2009- Anno II; at:
Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”
Via Roma n. 94 - 90133 Palermo, Italia
Tel: + 39 091 617 7252 - Fax: +39 091 623 0849
[email protected]
own language
KC8- Cultural
awareness and
and -Citizenship and
guaranteeing freedom and Constitution
everyone’s differences and
b) Group of activities
diversity, -Italian Language
disabilities in all their forms;
KC1-Communication in
the mother tongue;
KC5- Learning to learn;
and -Arts and image
preventing -Citizenship and
from Constitution
becoming inequality.
c) Group of activities: -educating to a unified but
European plural citizenship
-educating to coexistence, by
identities and cultural roots.
-Italian Language
KC6-Social and civic
KC8- Cultural
awareness and
KC1- Communication
in the mother tongue;
- European
KC2- Communication
in foreign languages;
KC5- Learning to learn;
-Arts and image
KC6-Social and civic
KC8- Cultural
and awareness &
The transversal objectives outlined in National Guidelines that CAREM tries to achieve are the following:
-enhancing pupils’ own knowledge and experiences;
-carrying out proper actions towards diversity;
-fostering exploration and discovery;
-encouraging collaborative learning;
-raising awareness on pupils’ own way of learning;
-carrying out didactic workshops.
Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”
Via Roma n. 94 - 90133 Palermo, Italia
Tel: + 39 091 617 7252 - Fax: +39 091 623 0849
[email protected]
All these goals can be reached at a very early stage of pupils’ educational process, thanks to specific
education programs that make use of innovative and participative methodologies, such as collaborative artmaking. Indeed, pupils will learn-by-doing through experiments, manipulations, narrations, games, artistic
and musical expressions. The social dimension of learning plays a significant role within school
environments, which privilege teacher-centred-methods, that are not suitable to foster inclusive and
participative education.
A collaborative approach at school should be encouraged – instead – as it motivates students and fosters
critical and creative-thinking, mutual respect and group spirit.
In addition, the project encourages the exchange of educational experiences all across Europe. The activities
developed within the CAREM framework will be tested in schools and education centres involved in to the
project, in order to evaluate their suitability to the local context. Thanks to that, both teachers and pupils will
actively participate in the project and contribute to the improvement of the activities developed.
The didactic tools and materials (i.e. teacher’s guide, booklet of activities), to be developed during the
project, will provide teachers with a didactic support about collaborative art-making approach and new
methodologies, meeting a need that is increasingly perceived in school contexts. As a matter of facts,
teachers often have to cope with new socio-cultural challenges arising in the school context without the
appropriate training and theoretical support.
CAREM responds to their needs by creating innovative learning programs for educators on how to use
collaborative art making and other participatory approaches, aimed at supporting inclusiveness in school and
educational paths.
Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”
Via Roma n. 94 - 90133 Palermo, Italia
Tel: + 39 091 617 7252 - Fax: +39 091 623 0849
[email protected]
AA.VV., 2001, “Obbligo scolastico e obbligo formativo. Sistema italiano e confronto europeo, in Studi e
Documenti degli Annali della Pubblica Istruzione, n. 92/93, Le Monnier, downloadable at:
Associazione TreeLLLe, 2002, “Scuola italiana, scuola europea. Dati e confronti”, Quaderno n. 1 maggio
2002, downloadable at:
Benadusi L., Niceforo O., 2010, “Obbligo scolastico o di istruzione: alla ricerca dell’equità”, working paper
Di Nocera Maria et al. “Una riflessione sui bisogni educativi speciali attraverso una ricerca” Dipartimento di
Psicologia Dinamica e Clinica. Facoltà di Psicologia 1 La Sapienza, Università di Roma. Numero: 10giugno 2009- Anno II; at:
MIUR, 2010b, “La presenza degli alunni stranieri nelle scuole statali”,
MIUR, 2012, “Indicazioni nazionali per il curricolo della scuola dell’infanzia e del primo ciclo d’istruzione,
2012”, downloadable at
Mario Calidoni, 2007, “Insegnare con i concetti. Arte e immagine”. Milano, Franco Angeli.
MIUR -ISMU, Alunni con cittadinanza non italiana. Approfondimenti e analisi. Rapporto nazionale a.s.
2011/2012, Gennaio 2013, downloadable at:
Moscati R., Nigris E., Tramma S., 2008, Dentro e fuori la scuola, Bruno Mondadori, Milano.
Rossi-Doria M., 2009, Di mestiere faccio il maestro, L’Ancora del Mediterraneo, Napoli
Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”
Via Roma n. 94 - 90133 Palermo, Italia
Tel: + 39 091 617 7252 - Fax: +39 091 623 0849
[email protected]
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