Education in Italy

Education in Italy witnessed great many upheavals, challenges and changes. But, from 1962 onwards, the educational system of Italy was standardized making all children up to 14 years of age, to follow a single program that includes primary education called in Italian as scuola elementare and the middle school referred to as scuola media.

Education in Italy primarily aims at fulfilling two objectives. One, make primary education accessible to all children, and narrow-down the gender bias such that equal opportunity for education is provided to males and females alike.

In 1999, changes were seen in Italian university system that saw the replacement of vecchio ordinamento or the old system of 5 years long degree, with nuovo ordinamento, or the new system. The new system includes a 3-year Bachelor degree, which is followed by a 2 year Master's degree.

Unique to Italian education is the "credit system" which aims to quantify the amount of work needed by each course and exam. So, a total of 25 work hours are worth one credit. There is also the provision for lateral movement within the courses offered and pursued, with special provision also for continuing the studies in a foreign country after the 3 years of Bachelor degree.

Today, there are two stages of education in Italy: primary and secondary. Primary school in Italy lasts 5 years, but as a rule it should be preceded by 3 years of non-compulsory nursery school [kindergarten]. The curriculum is uniform for primary education, irrespective of being private or state-funded school.

The Secondary education is called Scuole medie, which includes two stages, Medie Inferiori that lasts for 3 years, and Medie Superiori, that lasts from 3 to 5 years. At the end of the each year there is a final exam. Typical to Italian education is the fact that, Secondary school education is very diverse with several types of schools differentiated by subjects and activities. There are three main streams in Secondary education

a) Liceo - with focus on culture, liberal education & arts

b) Instituto Tecnico - with focus on Technical & Industrial training in aeronautics, business administration, computer science and chemistry

c) Instituto Professionale - with focus on practical subjects with a host of diploma programs to offer

Secondary education in Italy is followed by university education. The universities offer Laurea which is for 3 years, and roughly equivalent to a bachelor's degree and the Laurea Specialistica which is 2 years, roughly equivalent to a Master's degree.

The universities in Italy are dominantly public universities, and usually named after the city or region in which they are located Viz. University of Florence. There are also a few private-funded universities, which are accredited to the state authorities, with autonomy to confer academic degrees.

The university system in Italy is almost similar to that in United Kingdom. The academic major system does not apply, so the students in Italy concentrate on one subject throughout their degree. The academic calendar envelops two semesters every year. Examinations are held in three phases,

- The beginning of the academic year (September)

- The middle of the year (mid January to the end of February)

- The end of the year (mid May to mid July)

An established grading system on a scale from 1 to 30 is adhered with. The pass mark or the minimum scale fixed is 18. So at the end of Laurea and Laures Specialistica there is a final exam, which requires the students to submit a thesis or dissertation, which is based on an original experimental work or on a review of academic literature. The final grade is decided by following a weighted mean of the grades of the single courses, converted to a scale running from 1 to 110. As the minimum grade for every individual examination is 18, the minimum overall grade will be 66.

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