Italian school students fight for their education

 

On 12th March 2015 Italian students demonstrated all across the country against the decree-law “good school” (Buona Scuola) presented the very same day to the Cabinet.

The demonstrations involved almost 40 cities throughout Italy although this was not the largest mobilization we’ve seen in the recent period.

Students already mobilized against the “Good School” last October. The need to reaffirm their disagreement stemmed from the indifference of the government which was deaf and blind to the previous mobilization.

Central to the protests are the benefits granted by the government to private schools. The provision in fact call for tax bonuses of up to four million euros for all the families sending their kids to private schools.

Another big issue brought about by the decree-law involves temporary employees. Once again no working stability has been guaranteed to the vast army of unemployed and temporary teachers.

Moreover, in the name of building an autonomous school, the role of the headmaster will get dangerously close to the role of a manager, jeopardizing constitutional principles such as freedom of teaching, as the trade unionist Mimmo Pantaleo has pointed out. Additionally, the school head will be in charge of appointing and evaluating teachers, deciding on teaching methods and allocating pay rises. Thus any principle of participation, which is essential and even forms the basis of the Italian Constitution, has been subtly removed from the School apparatus.

For those reasons, students decided to say no to this dictatorship of austerity and insecurity the government is launching. They call for the right to study, the right to social inclusion and to self-determination and self-discovery of the individual in a public environment as a priority, prior to any questions of funding. The school must meet the needs of a civil society, not the needs of the market. This can only be achieved focusing on an enhancement of a free public education.

To Renzi’s “Buona Scuola”, the students counter-posed the “Altra Scuola” (The Other School), a reform proposed from below which focuses on the pillars of a democratic and fair education: relaunching of funding for the public schools instead of tax bonuses for private schools, in the name of a free education and substantial investments for school construction and the re-establishment of the autonomy of curricula and teaching methods.

The approval of the decree-law would reveal the contradiction between capitalism and democracy as it would break the 33rd clause of Italian Constitution. What emerges from the whole proposal is an idea of school education which reduces rights and liberties, starting from the freedom of teaching, on the basis of a neo-liberal and managerial perspective. These measures reflects what the government is doing elsewhere with the jobs act, ensuring benefits for the rich elite. We must fight against this.

by Claudia Falsetti, Glasgow Marxists