better to prevent than to cure • According to Welfare

The social inequalities that develop in the school environment are a central theme of our welfare system, present and future.

Two pieces of evidence, in particular, allow us to fully understand why it is. The first refers to the low skills of students: Italian children are below the OECD average in terms of basic levels of Italian and science, while at European level we have not yet managed to reduce the incidence of young people with poor reading results by 15%. mathematics and science. The second refers high dropout and dropout ratesthe highest in Europe after Spain, Malta and Romania.

In both cases, it is the students who come from the most disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds who have the worst academic results and those who drop out of their studies most easily. That makes us understand that the Italian school does not act effectively as a vehicle for social mobility, on the contrary, it crystallizes the existing inequalities. It is therefore a priority to find ways to ensure that the education system as a whole acts on this issue.

A search to understand how to intervene

In this sense, recently, Percorsi di second welfare, commissioned by ActionAid Italia, the report “Tackling educational inequalities: student participation and school guidanceThe idea behind the research is to focus on two strategic areas of intervention to promote the overcoming of inequalities in education.

The first refers to the student participation, understood both as the general involvement of the student in the activities proposed by the center (for example with a more participatory teaching method) and the ability of students to act within the government of the institution. The second focuses insteadschool guidancethat is, the process of acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to face the training and professional choices throughout life.

The analysis, for both areas, was carried out in two phases: starting from one desktop search, then we playedempirical analysis which involved different topics interested in the topic.

Participation: dialogue with students and interest groups

In terms of in-depth study of student participation, documentary research focused primarily onliterature analysiswhich is very broad on the subject and is based on some fundamental concepts: lo student involvementthat is, the involvement of children in the school world, and the student voice, that is, the recognition of the role of students as a carrier of knowledge in the school environment. Improving these two aspects can in fact help to combat early school leaving. In addition, aanalysis of main quantitative research on student participation in Italy andDocumentary analysis of the legislation on the instruments of participation in school government in Italy.

Then follow the search tables two focus groups which saw students involved in ActionAid Italia projects and from schools across the country as protagonists, along with some representatives of the Unione degli Studenti. The first focus group focused school participation tools (at class and school level) and external (for example the Provincial Council) defined by current legislation. The second investigated the opinion of the students participation tools that arise both as a result of student initiative and located in self-organizing spaces (such as open lists and mixed commissions), both educational centers related to the territory in implementation of the principle of subsidiarity through the Education Pacts, a specific political instrument that we have often talked about in our series #EducationalInequalities.

Guidance: learn from best practices

On the other hand, in the study of educational guidance, documentary research focused mainly onanalysis of European documentation in terms of lifelong guidance and confrontation two success stories: el Finland and the Spain. In the Finnish education system there are a certain number of hours a year to devote to guidance throughout the school, from primary to high school; in Spain, on the other hand, within the educational centers, there is a figure expressly trained and dedicated to guidance.

The analysis continued to analyze the Italian guidance system and its critical issues. In the Italian context, two cases of Best Practices, which we reviewed through three in-depth interviews. The first is “Metropolitan Orientation”, a project carried out by the Metropolitan City of Bologna with the aim of building a system of territorial orientation. The second case study is that of AFOL Milan Metrobody active in the field of educational and professional guidance.

During the research prior to the drafting of the report, several were also carried out interviews with industry expertssuch as Andrea Gavosto, director of the Agnelli Foundation, who we asked to explain the risks and opportunities of the PNRR for the school, and Pasquale Bonasora, president of Labsus, who helped us define the community education pacts in the framework wider range of collaboration agreements.

What are the results of the report?

The analysis in the report confirms this both participation and guidance are valid tools for combating inequalities among young people. For both tools, the research has identified some useful indications for their improvement. In terms of participation, it is essential to rebalance the student body in the governing bodies of the school, making students aware of their ability to act through appropriate training and permanently ensuring spaces for aggregation and comparison of children. The promotion of participatory teaching is also very important, especially in which students teach something to their peers (as happens, for example, during co-management). In order to improve orientation, it is necessary to make it an integral part of the whole school route, creating an integrated territorial system both outside and inside the school, which involves specifically trained personalities (teachers or dedicated professionals).

Because it’s a topic that “matters”

It fits the work done by ActionAid on educational inequalities in-depth course on young people that Secondo Welfare has been following for a long time.

Since 2014 we have been dealing with the subject with the thematic focus on the initiatives promoted by the Youth Guarantee and the national Youth Guarantee program and, more recently, we have created a relationship “A guarantee for NEETs. Youth Guarantee in four Italian regions: Calabria, Lombardy, Puglia, Piedmont ”. We are currently conducting two series of reflections. #Educational inequalities, which we talked about above, is born thanks to this report. Then there is #OverLaDad, the series in which we ask ourselves about the future of digital education beyond and outside the pandemic emergency. Our interest in the topic of youth this year also merged into one newsletter dedicated to the European Year of Youthin which we talk about the main challenges and what tools young people have to face them.

But why is it so important to be interested in this topic? Only if the new generations are adequately prepared to face the many challenges facing the country and – from our observatory – its welfare system, will we have the opportunity to develop a more just and inclusive society. In other words, developing forms of social intervention that respond today to the needs of the youngest means investing in the well-being of the future, which will benefit society as a whole.

Leave a Comment