Italy to declare distance education compulsory while planning to extend it to next year

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Italy to declare distance education compulsory while planning to extend it to next year

The interior of an empty classroom at the Faculty of Law of the Complutense University of Madrid. / Álvaro Ybarra Zavala
The interior of an empty classroom at the Faculty of Law of the Complutense University of Madrid.

The 10 million students in the country have been without class since March 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic

The 10 million Italian students, who have been unable to go to level for more than a month because of the coronavirus, have their sights set on May 18. That is the date indicated by the Minister of Education, Lucia Azzolina, as possible return day to kindergartens, schools, institutes and universities, provided that the pandemic has then completed its phase of decline and there are no new infections. “Until there is security, the boys do not return to class. If there are risks, they will not. I will listen to what the health authorities say, “said Azzolina last night on a Rai television program, in which he recognized that” one of the possible scenarios “is that the next course the telematic didactics must be extended. This could become mandatory in the current school year and not only be advised, as it is now, with a new decree that the Government plans to approve today.

If there is finally a ‘back to school’ on May 18, it will be possible to take the ‘maturità’ (the Italian selectivity) exams to enter the university and retest for the boys who finish middle school (11 to 14 years old). If it is not possible to resume face-to-face classes during this course, as experts in virology fear, the ‘maturità’ will be replaced by a single oral test in which all students will be admitted even if they have not passed the exams in their centres. It is a modality that was already used in the province of L’Aquila after the 2009 earthquake and consisted of control that can be carried out electronically.

That all the students are admitted to the ‘maturità’ “does not mean that they are approved”, insisted Azzolina, who justified this decision because “we do not have the mathematical certainty that we have reached 100% of the students with distance learning”. The minister also explained that for kids who finish middle school, the usual end-of-cycle exam would be replaced with the presentation of a dissertation, as long as it is not possible to resume classes on May 18.

It is expected that in the Minister’s Council this Monday, when the approval of a plan for business aid is also planned, the situation of the schools and the possibility that no one will repeat the course among the students of the other classes will be discussed. Antonello Giannelli, president of the national association of directors of educational centres, considered that this could be the only alternative to the exceptional situation that Italy is experiencing due to the pandemic. “But the failures must appear in the bulletin. It is unimaginable to approve those who do not deserve it. It is a principle of equity that must not be trampled on »Giannelli commented in an interview published by the ‘Corriere Della Sera’ last week, in which he proposed that the failed subjects should be made up next year.

Faced with the possibility of continuing to worry about the coronavirus in September, Azzolina explained that the ministry is studying various options on how to resume classes after the summer. Among them impose a greater distance between students, which will not be accessible due to the “atavistic problem” of the crowded ranks, he acknowledged. “We are working on various possible scenarios,” he said, admitting that among them was to extend telematic education in the coming year.

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