The chapter provides a social overview of the Italian education system and highlights how the nation’s schools and universities are characterised by forms of educational inequality linked to gender, social origins and geography. A comparative outlook situates Italy in a framework of other major European countries. Firstly, an overview of general features of the country, comprising demography, the adult population’s level of education, and the Italian economy identifies the social backdrop against which contemporary educational experiences occur. Expenditure on education in Italy is relatively low, especially at the university level and compared to overall public spending. The upper secondary education system features distinct academic, technical and vocational tracks, that are differentiated on the basis of curricular content as well as students’ social origins and gender; family background plays a key role in shaping track choices. The incidence of NEETs is particularly high among Italian youths, especially in the country’s Southern areas. Achievement levels, as recorded by the OECD’s International Progamme for Student Assessment, are relatively low in the domains of reading comprehension, mathematics, and science. Proficiency varies significantly according to geography, with the South featuring low shares of top performers and high shares of low achievers. PISA findings also point to weak aptitudes towards S_`a studies among girls. Half of upper secondary school-leavers enrol in university studies, with the lion’s share preferring humanities and social studies. Again, higher education displays strong gender differences, with low shares of women in STEM fields and high levels of women in humanities and health disciplines. The slowly rising level of university-educated youths is shown to be consistent with persisting inequality of educational opportunities. A final section focuses on teachers in Italian schools: teaching staff is comparatively elderly and features a very high incidence of women (even more so than in other comparable countries); teachers enjoy a particularly low level (with respect, again, to other countries) of social esteem and, at best, medium-low salaries. Youths graduating from education science degree programmes originate from humble social backgrounds and have had unexceptional school careers. In Italy, as in many countries, schooling as a means for reducing social inequality and contrasting the role of ascriptive characteristics is both an unfulfilled promise and an ideal that needs to inspire educators.

A Social Profile of the Contemporary Italian Education System

Gasperoni G.
2021

Abstract

The chapter provides a social overview of the Italian education system and highlights how the nation’s schools and universities are characterised by forms of educational inequality linked to gender, social origins and geography. A comparative outlook situates Italy in a framework of other major European countries. Firstly, an overview of general features of the country, comprising demography, the adult population’s level of education, and the Italian economy identifies the social backdrop against which contemporary educational experiences occur. Expenditure on education in Italy is relatively low, especially at the university level and compared to overall public spending. The upper secondary education system features distinct academic, technical and vocational tracks, that are differentiated on the basis of curricular content as well as students’ social origins and gender; family background plays a key role in shaping track choices. The incidence of NEETs is particularly high among Italian youths, especially in the country’s Southern areas. Achievement levels, as recorded by the OECD’s International Progamme for Student Assessment, are relatively low in the domains of reading comprehension, mathematics, and science. Proficiency varies significantly according to geography, with the South featuring low shares of top performers and high shares of low achievers. PISA findings also point to weak aptitudes towards S_`a studies among girls. Half of upper secondary school-leavers enrol in university studies, with the lion’s share preferring humanities and social studies. Again, higher education displays strong gender differences, with low shares of women in STEM fields and high levels of women in humanities and health disciplines. The slowly rising level of university-educated youths is shown to be consistent with persisting inequality of educational opportunities. A final section focuses on teachers in Italian schools: teaching staff is comparatively elderly and features a very high incidence of women (even more so than in other comparable countries); teachers enjoy a particularly low level (with respect, again, to other countries) of social esteem and, at best, medium-low salaries. Youths graduating from education science degree programmes originate from humble social backgrounds and have had unexceptional school careers. In Italy, as in many countries, schooling as a means for reducing social inequality and contrasting the role of ascriptive characteristics is both an unfulfilled promise and an ideal that needs to inspire educators.
Russia-Italy: Collaboration in the Field of Humanities and Education in the 21st Century
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/843038
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