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(en) Italy: FdCA statement - First day back... at a school that's closing [it]

Date Sat, 13 Sep 2008 10:46:50 +0300

The 2008-2009 school year is just beginning. It will, according to Education
minister Gelmini, be the last for Italy's public education system which
significantly improved learning rates from the late 1960s to the latter half of
the 1980s increasing and modernizing the various subjects and activities that
students were engaged in, increasing the number of teachers, guaranteeing the
right to an education for all those who used to be discriminated against by
being inserted into special classes, thus getting rid of the obscene practice of
selection on the basis of class that was a product of fascism. It was a school
system that for some time was - consistent with the secular, pluralist and
anti-racist tradition - actively engaged in welcoming the children of immigrant
workers and treating them as equals.

But the Berlusconi cabinet's Executive Order DL.137, issued on 1st September
2008 with the strong support of the minister, Gelmini, seriously threatens the
country's state school system, which risks being replaced with a mere
baby-sitting service for infants and a dumping ground for (mis)educating
adolescents to become ignorant and flexible for the work market, with the cost
of all this being placed firmly in the lap of the country's regional authorities.

Gelmini's attack comes as the latest in a series of attacks on public education
which started in the 1990s with the first staff cuts (which have never stopped
since and indeed are on the increase) introduced as part of harsh new
neo-liberal policies to contain public spending and privatize communal services.
The system which created parity between public schools and private schools,
introduced in 2000 (L.62/2000) by the then minister Berlinguer (centre-left),
turned education into a marketable product and diverted large amounts of public
resources into private and/or religious-run school. But uncertainty over the
future role and functions of public education came in no small way with the
Berlinguer reform in 1997 and the Moratti reform of 2003. Throughout these
years, every single Budget has made further cuts of thousands of education jobs
and there has been absolutely no interest whatsoever on the part of the State or
Italian capitalism in investing in
the public education of Italy citizens and new citizens. Education and culture
are now just goods to be bought and sold in the marketplace, with one's own
money, everyone getting as much education as they can afford and, why not, even
going to the extent of getting a school-mortgage for one's children's education.
In other words, a slow return to class-based schools.

Gelmini's Executive Order and finance minister Tremonti's Fiscal Order are
perhaps the last loop in the noose around the neck of our public education
system. At every level - primary, middle and high - jobs have been wiped out.
40,000 primary school jobs, 13,000 jobs in middle schools and 35,000 in high
schools. 200,000 precarious workers with no more hopes. The plan for Southern
regions (surprise, surprise!) is that there will be no new jobs or supply posts
offered until 2013! The mere act of bringing back single teachers for primary
school classes means the loss of 40,000 jobs, the waste of hundreds of hours in
workshops, group activities, cooperation, open classes, and many opportunities
for open learning experiences. It means a return to the grey polymath, to
punishment for bad grades, to uniforms, for the greater good of the hierarchy
and authoritarianism... but then isn't that what Italy voted for - order and

And once the forthcoming Aprea Bill on the reorganization of scholastic
institutes appears, we will learn that the requisites for becoming a teacher
will be a vocation and the teacher's "attributes" (sic!), that it will be the
job of school managers to test applicants. And that schools will have become (in
spite of the Constitution) foundations with holes in the seat of their pants and
no more trouble from those pesky trade unionists.

Lastly, the Gelmini Order marks yet another step towards Italy's executive
gaining total autonomy from the parliament, part of a process which is emptying
the country's "bourgeois" institutions of all significance, where delegated
democracy has become a tragic fiction and government a place where power is
concentrated and protected from all criticism and all means of verification. At
this stage, the process, which we anarchist communists long ago began to
denounce, is irreversible - irrespective of whatever those incurables on the
left who aspire to a seat in parliament say.

But the plans for super-teachers as envisaged by the Berlinguer reform (together
with the CGIL, CISL and UIL) and Moratti's "tutors" were defeated and never
introduced thanks to a grassroots mobilization by the world of education and by
the many direct-democracy committees that sprang up around the country.
Full-time school hours resisted the Moratti reform thanks to the same mixed
teacher-parent committees, who organized themselves and personally demonstrated
their opposition and their determination to defend public education as a right,
as something they had an immediate interest in due to their material living
conditions. So today too, a largescale grassroots mobilization is needed in our
schools, in our towns and regions, one that involves families, teachers,
professional and cultural associations, so that we can put a stop to the
annihilation of the public school system in this legislative black hole.

The FdCA supports all grassroots union and mass initiatives (starting with the
strikes on 3rd and 17th October and including the leafletting of schools) in the
hope that they can become the starting point for a wide, united movement to
defend and win back the right to education, to the best public education possible.

Labour Commission

12 September 2008


From: Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici <internazionale@fdca.it>
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