The Structural Framework Of The Italian Educational System

By Sofia Skleida

SOFIA SKLEIDA, Writer, MA, Ph.D., PostDoc. Sofia Skleida was born in Athens. She studied Filology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens where she obtained her BA,MA in Pedagogy,  Ph.D in Comparative Pedagogy and a postdoctoral research certificate . She obtained a certification in the Braille language. Today she works as a teacher in the secondary education. She took part in conferences and published articles in the Greek and international scientific journals, in conference papers and chapters books. She was awarded for her participation in poetry and literary contests in Greece and abroad. Her poems have been translated into Italian, English, Spanish, Albanian , Romanian and Bangla,Her first poetic collection entitled Dream of Oasis (Thessaloniki, 2014), was translated and published in Italy in 2017 (won the second prize in an international competition in Milan). Her first Fairy tale entitled Geometrini was published in 2016 , her second with the title  The Kingdom of Joy in 2018. Some of her published works are the following : Neologisms, Melismos , Ιn the Mediterranean, Poetic Reflections, Cappadocian theological references in handwritten verses, The teaching of classical languages in the Italian secondary education ,Poetic visions in Paintings, Didactic Trilogy: Body-Spirit-Soul, Educational Proposals,  Cor ad Cor Loquitur , A Second Life , Α trip to the country of “the meeting” , Let there be light, Sentidos Spirituales.  She is a regular member at the Panhellenic Union of Writers and at the Association of Greek Writers.

The school, in the modern sense, was born in Italy in the second half of the 17th century under the dynamic impetus of state autonomy. Italy’s modern education system is the result of numerous reforms that took place in both the 19th and 20th centuries, but also during the first decade of the current century. Primary and secondary education in Italy is offered in two cycles, compulsory and optional, and preceded by pre-school education. This classification, albeit from a long time ago, in its new forms, also seeks to take into account modern European educational developments.

Accordingly, organizational changes were made to Italy’s education system, which was adopted by its national parliament in 2003. It was the Law 53/2003 (institutional framework, reform Gelmini), which authorized the government to regulate general education rules.

 In this respect, with regard to its structural features, the current school system of Italy consists of the following levels of education:

• Preschool education – kindergarten age

• The first circle of education, which lasts eight years and consists of the Primary School and  the Secondary Education / High School.

• Upper Secondary Education – High School

In terms of compulsory education, this is provided by “Scuola Primaria”, which corresponds  to the Primary School, the Secondary  School, that is, “Scuola Secondaria di Primo Grado” which corresponds to the  high school and has been unified since 1962. Primary school is five years, while Secondary, three years, so with the addition of the first two years of Higher Secondary Education, compulsory education lasts a total of ten years. In more detail:

Preschool education is provided for children aged around 3 years, lasts three years and is optional. The educational program aims to develop infants’ personality and to prepare them for compulsory school life.

“Scuola Primaria”, that is, the corresponding Primary School, lasts five years and students can enroll in it from the age of  6 years. Primary School aims to promote the first spiritual education, being one of the key social components for the development of the personality of young people. The Italian Elementary School promotes the acquisition of all basic types of language development, as well as conceptual frameworks, competences and modes of research that are essential for understanding the human, natural and artificial worlds.

The transition from elementary to high school is possible after a positive assessment of students, which is placed in the second two-year teaching period. There is no longer the “Esame di Stato”( State Exams) , which in the past was compulsory by the end of the fifth grade of primary school. The “Scuola Secondaria di Primo Grado” lasts three years. Students’ entry age is approximately 11 years and consists of a two-year teaching period and a third year. The structure of the years is 2 + 1 . The “Scuola Secondaria di Primo Grado” program provides sufficient information for students to be culturally informed and to develop their skills.

The first course (Elementary and Secondary) is completed by the “Esame di Stato Diploma exams” (State Exams),  the successful outcome of which allows students to access to the High School and Technological Vocational Education. In “Scuola Secondaria Superiore”, the student has the choice between High School and Technological Vocational Education. The pupil’s entry age is about 14 years and studies last 5 years, with the first two of them mandatory. The Lyceum in terms of content and study is divided: Artistic, Classic, Economic, Linguistic, Musical , Coreutic, Scientific, Technological ,Human sciences.

The course of study followed is similar to that of previous studies. That is, it consists of  two-year courses and closes with a fifth year of completion of the scientific course. This is followed by the “Esame di Stato”, the official examinations for obtaining the necessary qualification to enter the University, or the possibility of further higher education in the artistic, musical and dance departments of the University. These exams of maturity have always been a great event for the student community. The student who was considered mature (Maturo) was fully enrolled in university or technical schools. Students, after reaching the age of 15 and having obtained a diploma, can, if they so wish, attend a school-to-work rotation. Following the Lyceum or Vocational education system, students are required to undertake practical training to gain relevant professional experience, as well as more organized stage programs, either in Italy or elsewhere.

The organization of the education system in Italy today is leaning towards the system introduced by Casati with his law. The classic “Ginnasio Liceo” has been and is still the only public school to adequately prepare students for the University of Law and Fine Arts Schools.

Higher education in Italy, apart from the problems it may present, is of a purely practical nature and has evolved very positively. The Italian university has become accessible to all those who want to pursue higher education, and has become more social and fundamentally more democratic than in the past.

There are state-owned Universities, which are fully supervised and funded by the state, and non-state or free Universities, which have been set up and recognized by the state. There are no (introductory) exams. The basic requirement for admission is to obtain the required qualification, following an examination (Esame di Stato), which are usually particularly rigorous. There are also  few enrollment restrictions. Fees are also paid, the amount of which varies, depending on the Univerity, and sometimes on the  faculties of the same university.

In conclusion, secondary education in the broad sense, both compulsory and optional, contributes to the promotion of the education of the individual and of the citizen, in accordance with the principles laid down in the Constitution, favoring the orientation of young people. Secondary education is formative because it offers opportunities for personality development in all directions (national, religious, social, spiritual, emotional, practical, creative, etc.). It also helps the student to gradually acquire a clearer and more thoughtful picture of social reality. At the same time, it is oriented because it favors the initiative of personal development and personal identity formation.

The structural character of the Italian education system, although based on a centralized one, is also extremely decentralized in some cases, since the educational units have a considerable degree of autonomy in the organization of education programs, taking into account the local conditions and needs.


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