Between masks and Cyrillic alphabet: ‘School reacted’

First was the pandemic, which knocked on the doors of classrooms for the third year in a row. Then came the war in Ukraine, with the need to place hundreds of students in the school system in a few days. “We can say that the school has gone beyond crises, rediscovering its role as a reference for society as a whole,” said the director of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (Decs). Manuel Bertoli, preparing the balance of the school year that will end tomorrow. A year marked by the need to know how to adapt quickly to new circumstances and which, said with a touch of pride the DECS leaders, “passed completely in attendance. In the end, the decision not to close the schools during the first months of 2022 was a good one. “

“Absences above average only in early January”

The most difficult transition regarding the pandemic occurred during the winter months, when the Omicron variant was implemented. “In early January, absenteeism rates were 7-8% due to quarantine and isolation. A situation that prompted us for a short period of time also to introduce the compulsory mask for primary school students “, explains Bertoli. “The rest of the year, on the other hand, the absences were in line with the usual periods, around 3-5%. We hope that in the future, in the event of new pandemic waves, we can keep the school always present. “

“More than 640 students have been integrated and work continues”

The second “peak” of stress for the Department came in March, when the Ukrainian war caused thousands of families to take refuge in Switzerland. “When one crisis ended, another immediately began. Our work has focused on ensuring regular school integration, with medium to long-term prospects, ”said Bertoli. More than 640 children have found a place among Ticino classrooms, and another part will be introduced instead with the start of the 2022-23 school year. Some figures: about 110 attend kindergarten, 260 in primary, 170 in secondary and 100 in compulsory work. “The commitment will also be maintained during the summer,” the DECS director continues. With intensive Italian courses. More than 200 teachers have been made available and enrollments exceed 400 units. Knowledge of the language, authorities have repeatedly reiterated in recent months, is considered a goal to be achieved as soon as possible.

“Watch and include, we don’t want to lose children on the street”

A novelty of the course that has just ended is also the mandatory training by law, which affects all young residents in Ticino. It is not the equivalent of compulsory schooling. But it requires each young person to have a specific training project in front of them. “The first challenge was monitoring. Understand what young people between the ages of 15 and 18 do, ”explained the DECS coordinator and director of the school division. Emanuele Berger. There are a hundred really problematic cases “for which a concrete alternative needs to be built.” Another service launched last September is school counseling for situations of possible sexual abuse or abuse of minors. “These are specialized staff who support teachers in case of need to help victims or potential victims.” Progress is also being made in creating inclusive classes. “Currently we have 36, and we want to reach 50. It is an increasingly demanded shared education, also a sign that the culture is changing.” And to facilitate the transition to the education of the future, the focus is on the digitization of institutions: “During the summer, 15 locations will be digitized with interactive whiteboards and wi-fi. 12 institutes have already undergone this intervention ”. All before the resumption of classes, which will take place on August 29.

Placement campaign: strong start to the year

He can smile too Paolo Colombo, director of the Vocational Training Division. The first results of 2022 of the placement campaign recorded, in fact, 566 signed contracts, an increase of 21% over the same period last year. The figure is also higher than in the years before the pandemic, “there is satisfaction, but we must not lower our guard. We are only a third of the way up. In fact, the data presented show that there are still 889 vacancies. So there is no shortage of work to do.

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