In Italy, it is compulsory to attend school
for ten years. Schooling is free of charge and starts at
the age of six. A few percent of students attend private
schools, many run by the Catholic Church. However, all
schools are state-controlled, and the curricula are set
by the Ministry of Education.
After the compulsory school years, students can
continue their studies at the upper secondary school,
the lycée, which offers both
theoretical and vocational courses. To enter the
university requires five years of upper secondary
education and a passing degree.
Offers a list of biggest cities in the state of Italy, including the capital
city which hosts major colleges and universities.
Country facts of Italy, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
During the economic crisis of 2008, major cuts were
made in education and Italy came to belong to the
countries in Europe that devote the least resources to
education in terms of GDP share. The fact that the
classes are smaller and the teachers more per pupil than
in other European countries has not led to
high-performing students. In studies conducted by the
economic cooperation organization OECD, Italian students
are below average in all subjects compared to other
Western countries. There are major regional differences.
For pupils in southern Italy, it is worse than for those
in the north.
Low attendance at the higher stages is a cause of the
problems. Other explanations have been made that the
school system is rigid and leaves too little room for
teachers and pupils to design the teaching in a way that
suits them and that decision makers in the school system
are not held accountable for their decisions to a
The current government has pushed through a school
reform that, among other things, means that teachers
should be paid for competence rather than number of
years of service and that the principals should be given
more freedom when it comes to recruiting staff.
University education has long been in crisis. In the
25-64 age group, only 14 percent have an academic
degree, which is half the average in the OECD countries.
The government has tried to reform the system and link
funding to results-oriented research and students'
prospects of getting jobs, but the plans were partially
curbed by student protests. Reductions in recent years
have led to a sharp reduction in the number of teachers
Italy has over 70 universities and a further number
of colleges. The University of Sapienza in Rome and the
University of Bologna are the largest. The University of
Bologna was founded in 1088 and is considered the oldest
in the western world.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
96.9 percent (2016)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
98.8 percent (2011)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
8.1 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
8.1 percent (2015)
Criticism of treatment of gays
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in a ruling that the Italian
government is violating human rights by not adequately protecting same-sex
couples. The verdict applies to three gay couples who are denied marriage or
have their partnership registered. In Italy, there is no legislation for
same-sex marriage and no opportunity to register partnerships. Prime Minister
Renzo has previously promised such legislation.
The government loses in local elections
The results of the governor elections in seven regions and the mayoral
elections in 700 municipalities will be largely negative for the Democratic
Party and Prime Minister Renzi. Although the Democratic Party takes home five of
seven governorships, the party's support among voters has been halved.
Electoral reform approved
Parliament finally approves the government's reform of the electoral system
by 334 votes to 61. Under the new law, the party / alliance that receives 40
percent of the vote is to be allocated 340 of the 640 seats in Parliament's
House of Commons. If no party / alliance gets 40 percent in the first round, a
new round of elections shall be held between the two who became the largest in
the first round. The party / alliance that wins then gets 340 seats (see also
Political system). Opposition parties are boycotting the vote in Parliament,
including Berlusconi's Heja Italy, which previously supported the proposal.
Criticism of police torture
The European Court of Human Rights, in a ruling, considers that Italian
police used torture in 2001 during demonstrations during a G8 meeting in Genoa.
Human rights organizations in Italy demand that a new law be adopted that
criminalizes torture - at present there is no such legislation in the country.
Bribery for construction contracts
Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Maurizio Lupi resigns following a
corruption scandal. Bribes have been paid out by companies that wanted to get
government construction contracts for large infrastructure projects.
HD freezes Berlusconi
Berlusconi is cleared by the Supreme Court of the suspicion of having had sex
with a minor prostitute girl and for trying to hide it (see June 2013).
He also recently completed a period of community service at an old age home to
which he was sentenced after a tax break. Berlusconi now declares ready to
return to politics.
Protest march against the government
Federation North organizes a protest demonstration in Rome against the
government's EU policy and handling the refugee crisis. Several thousand people
participate in the protest march. A counter-demonstration is held at the same
time by several leftist parties and anti-racist movements.
President Giorgio Napolitano announces that he is leaving his post for health
reasons. When the Electoral College (consisting of Parliament's two chambers)
later in January is to appoint a new president, the Democratic Party's candidate
wins Judge Sergio Mattarella. The judge has made himself known as one of
Berlusconi's harshest critics and Berlusconi is against Mattarella's choice but
loses the power struggle in this matter against Renzi.