An international day on the importance of education
Education is an inalienable human right that must be guaranteed to everyone, everywhere in the world. This is the underlying concept of World Education Day, celebrated every January 24th, established by the United Nations General Assembly. It underscores the importance of the right to education as a key element for growth, sustainable development, and peace.
The situation in Italy
In our country, the right to education is grounded in Article 34 of the Italian Constitution: education must be public, free, and compulsory for at least 8 years. Today, all children and young people under the age of 18 - both Italian and foreign - living in Italy have the right to education. But how to ensure this right? The state has the duty to provide a series of essential services so that everyone can truly access fair education and adhere to compulsory schooling. These services include housing, transportation, guidance and mentoring services, educational materials, and more. These services are guaranteed through state supplementary funds for scholarships, free textbook supply, and, in general, to counter school dropout.
Despite this, the school dropout rate, particularly in southern regions, still poses a challenge. In Italy, in 2022, the percentage of young people who left school prematurely between the ages of 18 and 24 is 11.5%. The goal is not to exceed 9%, a benchmark set at the European level for 2030.
To combat educational poverty, the commitment of local associations working in synergy with schools, families, and local authorities is essential. One such example is the Social Cooperative Don Bosco, which we have supported in the creation of the Talent Hub, an educational center for young people in Cosenza. Other projects we support in this area include Fare Scuola, in collaboration with the Reggio Children Foundation - Loris Malaguzzi Center, where we have given new educational value to school spaces, and Base Camp - Educational Centers in the outskirts of Rome, Naples, Palermo, and Catanzaro.
Education Denied: Child Labor in Italy and Worldwide
There are still too many situations, both in Italy and globally, where the right to education is effectively denied due to poverty, exploitation, and child labor. Worldwide, more than 160 million children are forced to work, being denied education and leisure. Of these, over 70 million are engaged in various forms of hazardous work, such as in mines, with chemicals, or dangerous machinery. Italy is not exempt from this phenomenon: an estimated 336,000 minors between the ages of 7 and 15 are engaged in work, and many of these jobs are particularly harmful to educational paths and psychophysical well-being. The consequence is a high rate of school dropout, which in a vicious circle increases poverty and exploitation. In our country, social distress that hinders access to education is also countered by projects such as the Città dei Ragazzi and the Daytime Educational Center Teen Lab, which we have decided to support to provide new opportunities for young people at risk of social marginalization.
The Right to Education for Women
The theme of education for women in history goes hand in hand with the acquisition of women's rights in all other areas and suffers from significant disparities based on different geographical regions worldwide. Even today, there are gender disparities in this field, despite female education being useful in strengthening economies and reducing inequalities. More educated women earn higher incomes, make more informed decisions, and build a better future for themselves, their families, and society. The data is clear: globally, 132 million girls do not go to school, with 34.3 million of them supposed to attend elementary school and 97.4 million supposed to attend middle school. This happens especially in conflict-affected countries.
In Italy, according to ISTAT data, in 2022, the percentage of adults with little education is 37.4%, with a higher prevalence of males (40.1%) compared to females (34.8%) who have achieved at most a middle school diploma.
Education and Learning Disorders
In Italy, students with Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) represent about 3% of the school population. Law No. 170/2010 recognizes these disorders, specifically dyslexia, dysorthography, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, and requires schools to activate the most suitable interventions to identify suspected cases of SLD. To ensure fair education, students with special educational needs follow individualized teaching focused on the specific skills of the student. It is personalized, adapting school objectives to their specific needs, with the help of compensatory tools and special teaching measures. The work of associations committed to breaking down barriers for disabilities in the educational sector is also crucial, such as the HPL - High Performance Learning Center that we have supported to help them develop the potential of students with cognitive vulnerabilities.
World Education Day is the right occasion to remember that offering equitable and inclusive education to the younger generations, regardless of gender, social situation, and specific abilities, is the only way to achieve truly sustainable development that uplifts everyone at the same pace.