Italians raise teacher status

August 9, 1996

The Italian government has decided that all future schoolteachers will have to have a degree and that secondary school teachers will also require two years of postgraduate training.

Elementary school teachers have previously only needed a school diploma while secondary teachers have required only a degree, without any special education training.

This big revolution in Italy's state education system, which comprises more than 700,000 teachers and almost seven million children, is the brainchild of Italy's new education and university minister, Luigi Berlinguer.

Mr Berlinguer, a former university professor, rector and president of the Italian rector's confernce, is planning a radical reform of both schools and universities.

The requirements for schoolteachers will, apart from anything else, be a test of how the new regime of academic autonomy for universities will function.

The new university degree programmes for would-be elementary school teachers, lasting four years, will be specifically geared to the teaching of small children. They will be based on the theory and practice of teaching and from the third year will include a total of 400 hours of internship in an elementary school.

Future secondary schoolteachers will instead have to have a normal degree in any field, followed by two years in teaching colleges which will be established in each region of Italy.

Mr Berlinguer has said that while the education ministry will give the universities general guidelines the actual syllabus will have to be created by the individual universities.

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