How compulsory schooling works in Italy and in Europe

How compulsory schooling works in Italy and in Europe

The theme of the school ends up at the center of the electoral campaign with the proposal launched by Enrico Letta, secretary of the Democratic Party (Pd), to extend the compulsory schooling from 3 to 18 years old. The idea was not liked by the right wing, who accused Letta of depriving minors from family education, and by the audience at the Rimini meeting, who booed the secretary during his speech. However, the PD project reflects a trend already underway in Europe, where compulsory education is being extended to more and more countries.

When is Italy investing in education? At what age does schooling begin in Italy? What is the level of early school leaving in Italy? How does compulsory education work in Europe? When does Italy invest in education? Let's start with some initial considerations. Italy invests much less in the education system than all the other countries of the European Union, ranking penultimate in the ranking, just before Greece. According to data from Eurostat, the European statistical agency, in 2020 Italy invested 7.5% of public spending in schools. Romania, just above us, is 8.8%. On average in Europe 27, the investment is 9.4%.

At what age does schooling begin in Italy? Despite this, according to Eurostat data processed by Open polis, schooling in Italy begins very early and 94.6% of minors between 3 and 6 years, that is the compulsory school age, participate in pre-primary education. A figure higher than the European average but which has nevertheless suffered a 3% contraction since 2013. While the percentage of minors between 4 and 5 years of age attending kindergarten or the first year of primary school is over 90%.

The data therefore show a natural tendency for parents to involve their daughters and daughters in the school system, long before the compulsory age, in line with the proposal made by Letta. On the other hand, however, the school dropout rate in Italy remains very high, equal to 13.8% and concentrated in particular in high schools.

What is the level of school dropout in Italy? According to the report of the Ministry of Education, University and Research (Miur) Early school leaving 2017/2018 - 2018/2019 / 2018/2019 - 2019/2020, between the school years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 the boys and girls who decided to abandon their studies (because they stopped attending classes or did not enroll in the following year) are 10,938 for middle schools (0.64% of the total) and 98,787 for high schools (3.79%). Dropout is more intense in the southern regions, with about 4.4% of the total of high school students and female students, and among males, with 4.6% dropout at the national level in high school, compared to 2 , 9% of girls.

How does compulsory schooling work in Europe? According to the latest report by the European Commission, which includes 37 European member countries and not the European Union, only in two countries (Estonia and Croatia) the compulsory school age begins at 7 years. While in others in seventeen (including Italy) it starts at 6, in another thirteen at 5, in another three at 4 and only in two to 3 years, that is, in France and Hungary.

The term, on the other hand, is slightly more varied. In some regions of Germany, compulsory schooling ends at the age of 19, as well as in North Macedonia. In Belgium it ends at 18, as well as in the remaining regions of Germany, France, Portugal and Finland. In Romania and Turkey the obligation ends at 17 years.

While in Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Holland, Slovakia, Sweden, Iceland and Norway it ends at 16. Then follow the Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Austria, Poland, Albania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Montenegro, where it ends at 15. And finally Serbia, where it ends at 14.

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