The Berlinguer reform: when the Italian school approaches European ideals

Today Luigi Berlinguer turns 90, a respectable success for a man of culture whose name will remain anchored in an attempt to do so school reform hastily liquidated as a “cycle reform,” but which marked a turning point in the Italian school whose consequences are still preserved today. As always in these cases, lights and shadows. It was him – Minister of Education of the first government of Romano Prodi (later Massimo D’Alema), from 1996 to 2000- to build the architecture and the prerequisites for a change that in its background never took place, but which also served to introduce some of the mistakes that have been. there for twenty years corrosion from within.

The Berlinguer reform consisted of two key measures, around which the new school of our country should have been articulated: the framework law of February 10, 2000, n. 30 onwards cycle rearrangement and higher education, Act December 10, 1997, n. 425 modifying thegraduation exam. The new minister will then withdraw the regulations implementing the DM Letizia Moratti when Silvio Berlusconi reactivated the elections in 2001. In 2003 Moratti will always repeal both, replacing them with his reform, that of the Three I.

Returning to the Berlinguer Reformation, for the subdivision between primary, secondary and high school, in favor of an articulation by “cycles”: seven courses of primary or basic cycle (from 6 to 13 years) and five of ESO (from 13 at age 13). 18), with thecompulsory education set at 15 years, that is, at the end of the second year of the secondary cycle. For those who do not continue their studies until maturity, vocational training organized and managed by the counties, until the age of majority. Basically, the traditional school path compressed into two school orders and shortened by one year; the maturity remains at 18 years, then the university for whoever wants and can. In practice, primary and secondary schools combined and reduced from 8 to 7 years, higher divided into two two-year courses, the first with many common teachings, the second more specific and a last year with maturity at the end of the year.

The third important part of the reform is that of the university with the establishment of the “degree of points”(3 years for the short plus 2 years for the master’s degree); was presented in 2000 by the then Minister Zecchino, but in full consistency with Berlinguer who had worked there during the period in which he was both Minister of Education and University. The reform of the university it continued, the one of the school remained in game, surpassed and annulled by the two laws Moratti, of 28 of March of 2003, n. 53 and 4 November 2005, n. 230, which are still substantially in force today with the corrections then made by Minister Gelmini, that of the tunnel between Switzerland and Abruzzo through which neutrinos pass.

The Berlinguer Reformation was truly the daughter of the sentiment and culture of the time: Italy was in the midst of pro-European impulse generated by the then forthcoming introduction of the euro. The reform of the school was presented as the necessary tool to modernize society, introducing concepts and issues close to the neoliberal thinking rampant, such as the corporatization of knowledge (training credits, school / work …, the competitive evaluation of teachers), the dependence of curricular options on the needs of industry, the equality between public and egalitarian centers, all two qualified as public centers. and placed on the same floor.

The fable of “merit” it replaced the values ​​of integration, subsidiarity, didactic and educational experimentation as a tool to grow the school and society. As if the school was repositioned by cutting the ends: to the poor a little support in an inexperienced school, to the rich the private school system that was “equalized,” equated to the state. The lexicon also changed to mean what the school was supposed to be. For example, “principals” (who preside, presumably, over a community of thinkers) and “didactic principals” (who direct teaching) become “school leaders”(Reforma Bassanini 2000), framed in the executive roles of the state and endowed with powers and tools that still now clash with the management and care of a school community.

Yes, Europe. Then it seemed like the beginning of a real one New Age: the single European currency would have served as a scaffold for the new EU, opening a season of reforms that would have led, if not to the realization of the United States of Europe, no doubt to greater integration between countries and people. There was a lot of talk about the single European army and thepolitical integration it really seemed to play, along with EU enlargement, in which Prodi, President of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004, worked hard. The Berlinguer reform was also presented as a necessary adaptation of the school institution to the prevailing systems in the EU, from the time of access to universities to the formalization of a different institute, considered by many as theweaker link of the Italian school system.

It was also the time offederalist euphoria and the need to bring order to the system of autonomy that had been generated by the reform of Title V of the Constitution (2001), wanted and promoted by the center-left, which was done with the hope of removing land from under the feet. of the League. The school was also included in the set of institutions that recognized autonomy, which with its Pof (Training Offer Plans), then Ptof with the addition of territoriality, “allows to provide the service flexibility, diversification, efficiency and effectiveness and achieve integration and better use of resources and structures, also through the introduction and diffusion of innovative technologies ”(Miur). Thus art. 21 of the Bassanini (the same law under which the Central and Northern regions today demand an extension of matters of exclusive regional competence) framed the question of school autonomy, setting its limits and identifying the bodies involved , specifying its competencies. .

Many of these aspects will end up being an organic part of the Berlinguer Reformation, for example the regional competition exclusive in the field of professional training -delegates in private agencies to those of union or confindustrial emanation- and ways of labor initiation, with the usual corollary of scandals and robberies, ominous failures, ghost courses.

Before Moratti took care of the dismantling of the Berlinguer Reformation, the positive appreciations they were linked to the idea of ​​a new school that knew how to synthesize plural approaches, interacting with society and becoming the engine of the initiative and educational planning with local institutions, especially the City Councils. The organizational and cultural coherence of schools and companies in creating non-simple alternative school / work paths was questioned. exploitation and history has confirmed it. The idea that compulsory education was raised at the age of 18 (without clearly writing whether it was compulsory education) was valued, let alone the refusal to combine structural reform with a thorough review of programsthe tools available to students in difficulty, updating teachers, their evaluation and improvement.

Hecorporatization of an institution who had given the best of himself when cooperation was the cornerstone, replaced by one competition consisting of notes, judgments, and profiles that evaluated the test and not the path; he opposed the legalization of technical institutes, an incomprehensible attack on one of the fundamental schools of the Italian education system. Vocational training, given to individuals and training agencies linked to intermediate bodies, was much debated even then: the state withdrew from the direct management of a sector that aimed to most disadvantaged population and that, at the same time, it had been the cornerstone of the boom of Italian industry, preparing operative figures who contributed decisively to the work. Of all this and much more, the memory has almost been lost in this whirlwind of lost, said and canceled reforms, renewed and often consisting of cuts disguised as innovation.

Luigi Berlinguer’s name in the school world is indelibly associated with that great discussion about what the education system that accompanied the law process should be; perhaps the last great choral reflection before Berlusconi’s triumph and of the complicit apathy that accompanied his splendor, both to the right and to the left. A reflection that made it clear how powerful the mass bombing of Berlusconi’s troops had been. Able, even at this important crossroads, to dictate the new value system dell’Italietta of 2000, so indistinguishable that it is good for the right as for the left.

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