The Italian Almanac

student at school

Italian News - April 21

The school year comprises 200 days of lessons. At secondary schools, absences reduce that number by anything from 20 to 30%. The figure is unofficial, for the ministry of education statistics service has never asked schools for the appropriate data. Nevertheless, the truth has emerged from other studies, such as the one on unexplored areas of school-time published by the TreeLLLe association.

For the experts, absences have been shrouded in mystery for many years because the figures reveal that something is not working as it should. But what? “Students are spontaneously reducing the number of lesson days”, explains researcher Rosario Drago, one of the speakers at the recent TreeLLLe conference on educational autonomy. “It’s a form of compensation to balance leisure time, which today has much greater importance than it did 20 or 30 years ago, against the demands of schooling, and a reasonable likelihood of obtaining a school-leaving certificate.

Absentees are tired because they have to take on a greater load of lesson hours and subjects than their parents did. Until the 1950s, the classical and scientific secondary schools, which have the least onerous timetables, never exceeded 27 hours a week. Today, they can have as many as 36 hours. What is needed to get out of this absurd situation is a school that is less boring, but also more challenging. We have to take another look at school hours”. Educationalist Giuseppe Bertagna, is equally explicit. "Students are unable to choose subjects, timetables or how the school is organised. The syllabuses are very demanding, and are designed not for the students but to transmit abstract knowledge. In the early 20th century, it was thought that a 24-hour week was too long. It was believed that time was needed for individual study of the student’s choice, and for independent reading. Truancy has become a mechanism of defence against a structure that is felt to be an imposition, not an expression of the self".