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Educational Poverty Threatens Italy
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Educational Poverty Threatens Italy

As 9 million students were back to school across the country on Monday, a study warned the risk of educational poverty would loom over the future of Italy’s next generations.

Almost 25% of 15-year-old Italians performed below average in math and 19.5% in reading in the latest international tests (PISA), and such rates would increase up to 36% and 29% respectively among pupils coming from low-income families, according to the study.

“Economic poverty and educational poverty feed each other, and are transmitted from one generation to the next,” the ‘Enlighten the Future 2030’ study by Save the Children charity said, Xinhua reported.

The study was based on the results of latest PISA tests, which regularly assess 15-year-olds in key subjects across 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

It also considered Italian Ministry of Education data, official statistics, plus public consultations with children and families across the country.

The study outlined clear targets in order to halve several factors behind educational poverty before 2020, and to eradicate them by 2030. Yet, its first and foremost suggestion would be to assess child poverty.

“An action plan against child poverty is a top priority, and could be approved by the government even within the next financial law (by the end of the year),” Raffaela Milano, director of Italy and Europe programs with Save the Children.

“This is crucial, since child poverty weighs tremendously on the educational path of children.”

Besides poverty, geographical origin and gender would also contribute to inequality in education, according to the study.

“Undoubtedly, being a female born from a low-income family in Italy’s impoverished southern regions increases the risk of educational poverty sharply,” Milano explained.

“Socio-economic conditions, gender, and sometime also being a foreign-born student, are all factors bringing about additional disadvantages that our school system is not yet able to fill.”

Data in the report indeed confirmed pupils in southern Italy are more disadvantaged than those in the north: some 32% of females and 28% of males in southern regions did not reach the minimum skills in math, against 16% and 14% of their northern peers, respectively.

Nearly 64% of pupils overall do not have daily access to leisure activities, sports, and cultural projects in school, and this rate reaches its highest point in Italy’s southern regions.

Further, 48% aged 6-17 did not read any book in the previous year; 55% did not visit any museum; and 45% were not involved in any sport, the report said.

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