Education reform announced

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has announced details of new reforms to the secondary education system as approved by his cabinet today to be effective from the next academic year.
Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini (photo) said that the new system does not follow any kind of ideaology but only favours quality over quantity. Six different kinds of ‘licei‘ are to be established, based on the Gentili system dating back to 1923, although now including a ‘musical’ high school and one for humanistic studies (scienze umane).
Student organisations and teachers associations have strongly criticised the reform saying it’s only aim is to make savings in education spending by cutting back on important subjects, learning hours and jobs. A strike has been announced for 12th March.
While changes in the classical, scientific and language licei mainly concern a reduction in teaching hours, the technical institutes are harder hit with the current range of 10 different fields of learning brought down to just two  “economico” and “tecnologico“. Major emphasis is given to the teaching of English and ‘integrated’ sciences.
Government opposition has also described the reforms as ‘devastating’ and a missed opportunity for the country’s future.
Education is currently compulsory in Italy from the age of six (although the majority of children attend an asilo from 4 or 5). At the age of 14 students may choose either a liceo (generally leading to university) or professional school for a further 5 years.

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