In Italian schools, one in 7 students does not attend religion

In Italian schools, one in 7 students does not attend religion

In Italian schools

There are just over a million, out of a total of 7.2, students who, during the school year 2020/2021, have chosen not to use the teaching of the Catholic religion. This is 14.07%, an increase compared to 12.9% in 2018/19 and 13.53% in the following year. The data comes from the Ministry of Education, which supplied it to the UAAR (Union of atheists and rationalist agnostics) and to OnData, an association committed to open data and promoter of the #DatiBeneComune campaign.

Precisely in the spirit of campaign born in 2020 for the release of data relating to the pandemic from Sars-CoV-2, the two associations have decided to make the information obtained from the ministry available through a request for civic access to the documents. Numbers that precisely tell of how one student out of seven leaves the classroom when the religion teacher enters. A choice that between childhood and primary school affects only 10% of students, who rise to around 13 in lower secondary schools and up to 19% in secondary schools. This graph summarizes the situation on a regional basis.

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Here if you do not see the graph In the graph the provinces of Aosta, Trento are missing and Bolzano: these are autonomous regions, which precisely manage these data independently and therefore the ministry has not provided. The same happened when obtained, again thanks to a request for civic access, the data on infections from Sars-CoV-2 in Italian schools. To obtain data on the Aosta Valley, it was necessary to contact the autonomous region directly.

Returning to the graph, as you can see, Tuscany is the region with the highest percentage of students who do not attend religious time: one in four. On the contrary, Basilicata is the one where the incidence of those who choose alternative activities is the lowest, stopping at 2.57%. This is just one in 40 students. More generally, teaching the Catholic religion is also one of those themes that divides the country in two. But what are the reasons behind these choices?

Cultural effect A first hypothesis is linked to the fact that it is mainly students who simply choose not to attend Catholic religion lessons because they profess another one . To verify it, has crossed the percentage of those who choose alternative activities with that of foreign residents in the age group between 3 and 19 years.

Of course, not all foreigners come from countries where Catholicism is not widespread: think for example of South America or the Philippines. In the same way, the children of immigrants who have taken Italian citizenship (according to Istat in 2020 alone there were 132 thousand people) have changed passports, they do not believe in religion.

Since these people are rightly included in national statistics as Italian citizens, it is not easy to try to estimate how naturalized students are who do not attend Catholic religion class because they profess a different faith or because they do not believe. However, it is plausible to assume that there are more of them in those territories where there are more residents of foreign nationality. But, in fact, it is only a hypothesis, impossible to quantify. Having made this clarification, here's what the numbers say.

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Here if you don't see the graph Each point represents a province, the dimensions indicate the number of students in that territory. The colors, on the other hand, indicate the geographical area to which the province refers. The map at the top left acts as a filter: just click on a region and only the provinces that are part of it will appear on the graph. As can be seen, a positive correlation emerges between the presence of families of foreign origin and the exit from the classroom at the entrance of the religion teacher. This means that as one phenomenon grows, the other also increases. It is equally evident, however, that the choice of not attending these lessons concerns higher percentages than those of foreign students.

Caveat on correlations For example in Rome, represented by the large white bubble in the center of the graph, there is it is only 11% of foreigners, but 15% of students do not attend religion. In short, there is a difference of four percentage points between the two phenomena. has calculated this difference for all the Italian provinces and represented it on this graph.

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Qui se non see graph In all regions of the Center-North the percentage of those who do not attend religion is higher than that of foreigners. Lazio is an exception with four out of five provinces. This means that either there are many non-Catholic people who have naturalized or there are many who freely choose not to enroll their children in the teaching of religion. But, as mentioned, the data do not allow us to clarify this point. In the South, however, it is the opposite: the percentage of those who do not attend is lower than that of people of foreign origin.

The greater distance between those who choose alternative activities and residents of foreign origin lies with the province of Florence, which, not surprisingly, with 36.7% is the one with the highest percentage of those who do not attend religion. Here the difference between the latter and foreigners is 23.67 percentage points. However, since the province of the Tuscan capital is the 14th in Italy for the percentage of residents of foreign origin between the ages of 3 and 19 (13.06%), it is possible that this phenomenon is mainly linked to immigration. Not surprisingly, the most widespread nationality among Florentine foreigners is that which comes from China, which represents 12.2% of the total, a country where state atheism is professed. In second place, then, is the Romanian community (11.7%), which comes from a country where the most widespread faith is Orthodox Christianity.

“The ministry has not responded to all the our questions - explains the UAAR secretary, Roberto Grendene -. For example, we do not know the details of the alternative choices to teaching the Catholic religion, because it is an undetected figure. However, the elements that the ministry provided us represent an important first step, which allows us to extract new and interesting information ". And above all they represent a step forward compared to the previous situation, in which, explains the president of OnData Andrea Borruso," the only source of information on such an important issue was the Italian Bishops' Conference, which however only rattles off percentages per macro-area ".

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