The New Italian High School System
High schools are a particular level of secondary education, also called “scuola superiore”, or upper school in Italy. It lasts five years and the average student attends between the ages of 14 and 19. In 2009 the Minister of Public Instruction, Maria Stella Gelmini approved a new law that aims at restructuring and redesigning the Italian high school system. These changes will take effect starting in the year 2010 and will bring about several changes.
Currently there are hundreds of different specializations available within the high school system. Although it was seen as a way for students to differentiate their careers, perhaps too many choices caused too much confusion. In the new system we will be left with just six main types. Let us take a look at each of the six.
Liceo Classico (classical studies) will remain unchanged, except for the fact that the students belonging to this specialization will take a foreign language for the entire five year duration.
Liceo Scientifico (scientific studies) includes, as an extra to the typical courses, a scientific technological track that will analyze in detail the domains of technology and applied sciences.
Liceo Linguistico (modern language studies) includes the study of three foreign languages: starting from the third year, one subject (not a formal language course) will be taught in a foreign language, and the same will happen with a second subject starting in the fourth year.
Liceo Artistico (fine arts studies) is further divided: Figurative arts focuses on themes such as the safekeeping and valorization of Italy’s cultural tresures. Architecture, design and environment utilizes audio-visual communications for the actuation of cultural programs and researche. Audio-visual, multimedia and set design helps students utilize the latest technologies to fully develop their artistic potential.
Liceo delle Science Umane (liberal arts studies) focuses on the main areas of human-centered sciences. This will replace the old Liceo Sociopedagogico with the possibility of enabling (upon the institute’s choice) a socio-economic track.
Liceo Musicale e Coreutico (music and choir studies) is potentially ancillary to conservatories and dance schools. At the end of these studies the students will have a great knowledge of the national and international musical domain accompanied by the historical and social contexts that inspired the works, which will be the matter of careful evaluations and appreciation.
Other significant news in Italian education includes the study of Latin as a mandatory subject in the Liceo Classico, Scientifico, Linguistico and Scienze Umane and it is optional for the other courses. Teaching one non-linguistic subject entirely in a foreign language during the fifth year of all the courses of study, increased hours for math, physics and sciences. Weekly instruction hours will increase to 27 for the first two years and 30 for the remaining three, except in the fifth year for the Liceo Artistico, which can have up to 35, of the Musicale (32) and Classico (21 for all of the last three years). In an attempt to go back to the so advertised meritocracy, the quality and not the quantity of the teachings will be rewarded.
The independence of each high school will be increased, with flexibility in choosing the courses and weekly hours. High schools can start designing entirely new courses through the collaboration of expert consultants, paid from the school’s budget which will also be linked only to that particular school.
Moreover it will be possible for the students to hold internships and real work experiences starting from the first two years of high school. This will shorten the gap between what students learn in school and what is required in the real world, possibly even leading to a job after graduation.
Written by: Luca Pasquali
Edited by: Justin Demetri