On May 22 the Prime Minister famously promised to release 36 million euros earmarked for school buildings with the aim of rebuilding “obsolete structures” and for the builidng of “new buildings that meet the highest standards of safety”. This appeared to be a step forward after silence on this question over the past few months and the non-fulfilment of the measures detailed last year.
In June 2013 there was talk, in fact, of 450 million euros of investment in school buildings. Of this 18 million euros was earmarked specifically for the Campania region. Local administrations simply had to submit their requests in order to be placed on the list for receipt of funds. However, the final list of approved projects contained a bitter surprise: the Campainia region (a region in the South of Italy) was excluded from the assignment of funds.
This period is one in which there is little to celebrate in the South of Italy where, of the 36 million euros promised, only 5% has been received, that is around 2 million euros, which is then further divided between Campania and Calabria. This is a pittance given the amount of work necessary on buildings in Campania, work which must begin with the removal of asbestos and the adjustment to regulations regarding health, safety and fitness for use. Furthermore, statistics from Legambiente (an association for the protection of the environment) from 2013 show that 51% of Campania schools are based in buildings dating from the 1940s, none of which are in a state that meets the requirements of a “green” building; 51.8% require maintenance as a matter of urgency; and 85.6% are situated on land which is at extreme risk of flooding and volcanic activity. Only 8.4% of school buildings are built according to earthquake-proof specifications, and only 20% of schools can ensure access and normal teaching for disabled students. Naples, the primary city in the South is ranked as low as 36th when it comes to school safety.
Today the situation is no different and not even a shadow of the investment has been seen. Campania schools continue to deteriorate and the students continue to have lessons in crumbling institutions where there is a daily fight against inadequate safety standards, overcrowded classes and increasingly deficient teaching. In Italy there are 100,000 accidents each year involving teachers and students, of which around 10,000 are recorded in Campania alone.
In short, the crumbs that the government allocate for the redevelopment of school buildings are not even close to sufficient: we must unite to fight so that we are allocated the funds to implement the national standards for school buildings and to allow students a good quality education.
by Giuliana Mastroserio, Naples
Source: Falce Martello, journal of the Italian section of the International Marxist Tendency