Challenges of Equitable Access to Education in Italy: the Role of Families


In stratified societies, schools reproduce the mechanisms of selection. The Italian school system guarantees equality in access, but not in outcomes, and its function of “social elevator” is lost. Only an integrated system of autonomous schools, both public and private, could respond to the growing social complexity, by enhancing diverse strategies to reduce inequity through “quality in education”: and freedom of parental choice is a requirement for quality education. The standardized offer, giving exactly the same courses to all students, even if different, can’t copy with the increasingly different demand of education, that asks for equality in differentiation. In Western nations, the trend is to move from the centralized State school to an integrated system where the private sector, financed by the State, cooperates with public school (subsidiarity principle). It is important to stress that choice initiatives may go hand in hand with furthering equality in educational opportunities and outcomes. There is a bias against parents’ participation and parent-run schools, because of the idea that only the public school can give a common basis for the civic order, but the mandatory and monopolistic common school is no longer the expression of a coherent local community, but is instead a “shopping mall” of competing messages with no moral core and no focused notions of education. The supposed “neutral” school is itself a compelling ideology, perhaps an effort to break two institutions that have been most resistant to totalitarianism: families and religious institutions. Schools must accept the existence of other learning places, such as industry, and other teaching actors, such as the family. The central means to improve quality without denying equity is accountability: schools should be accountable to students and their families, and to the new important actor, civil society in its varied forms. Education is a public and common good, and its organizations play essential roles.

Ribolzi L. (2019) "Challenges of Equitable Access to Education in Italy: the Role of Families " Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 11(1), 228-239. DOI: 10.14658/PUPJ-IJSE-2019-1-11  
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Italian Journal of Sociology of Education
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