In Italy, the education system is falling down. Literally. In about half of Italian school buildings, including universities, pieces of plaster are falling off the ceiling, water infiltrates into walls and floors are giving way, according to a, an organization of citizens. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, the apparent and most visible part of the Italian education problem.
The hidden one is at least as much frightening. Each year, one Italian student out of five drops out of school. In 2011, left their studies prematurely. Three-fifths of those 758, 000 were boys. In Europe, where the average is 12.8%, only Spain and Portugal did worse than Italy.
Those numbers get even higher when it comes to universities. Only 45% of students who enrolled in universities are still there three years later to discuss their thesis, whereas they are 69% in average in the OECD. In a country that has, by far, one of the lowest university attendance in developed countries, this means troubles.
“In Italy, the system of universities is ill, ” says Carmen Aina, a professor of economics in Piemonte Orientale-University who recently wrote a survey on university dropout. “It is not able to retain students throughout their whole academic career.”
Yet the situation has slightly got better over the last ten years. “There is a real endeavor in public schools, ” former under-secretary in the Ministry of Education Marco Rossi-Doria. “But, overall, it is still too slow and totally inadequate.”
Selection happens too late
Slow, inadequate and blocked: so is the education system in Italy. “Higher education-wise, you only have two options here: become a lawyer or do business, and basta, ” says Riccardo, 20, who decided to move to France to study. “Besides, there are people graduating from the best universities who don’t find a job because they don’t know anyone in the law or business areas. Once students realize that, they feel attend university is useless.”