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Homeschooling Grows in Italy
Compulsory attendance: 6-16 (Compulsory for all children who have turned 6 before December 31)
Legal status of homeschooling: Home education is legal but not widely known in Italy. The Italian Constitution states in Articles 30 and 33 that parents have the duty and right to support, instruct, and educate their children. The Legislative Decree of 16 Apr 1994 regarding public education (DL 16/4/94 no. 297), Articles 111, 147, and 148, as well as the updated Legislative Decree of 19 Feb 2004 on primary education (DL 19/2/04 no. 59), recognize instruction in the home by families.
Article 111, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the 1994 Act states that parents must annually notify the appropriate school authorities of their intent to homeschool. In addition, parents or guardians must demonstrate that they have the “technical” or “economic” capacity to teach their children at home. “Technical capacity” means that the parent must have completed two full academic years of schooling beyond the level of the children he is currently teaching. “Economic capacity” simply refers to financial means. Most homeschool families self-substantiate that they meet these criteria. Though it is possible that education officials could inquire about this, few if any families have had to produce proof of technical or economic capacity.
Home education is legal in Italy, where there is a growing number of homeschooling families. Each year more and more Italian families choose not to send their kids to school, but they remain a minority against the vast majority of the population that believes not sending kids to school, in order to teach your own, is against the law. But things are changing quickly, and in they are going in the right direction.
The homeschool group Controscuola.it defends and expands educational freedom in Italy.
Despite the fact that there exists a fairly clear legislation on this subject, schools—which hardly ever have to deal with homeschooling—tend to judge this choice negatively and don’t support the students (obviously, there are some exceptions).
Here in Italy, homeschooling parents have to annually notify the appropriate school authorities of their intent to homeschool (dirigente scolastico). Parents or guardians must provide a self-certification to the school district in which they state that they have the “technical” and “economic” capacity to teach their children at home. “Technical capacity” means that the parent has completed a level of schooling beyond that of the children he is currently teaching. “Economic capacity” simply refers to financial means. Neither of these statements must be justified by legal papers (tax declaration, school diplomas, etc.) and there is no guideline or specification: homeschooling families self-substantiate that they meet these criteria. Though it is possible that education officials could inquire about this, few if any families have had to produce proof of technical or economic capacity. In case a family undergoes further investigation, they can also list the names and the qualification of other people, external to the family, who will help in educating the children.
On May 16, 2017, the Italian Parliament approved a decree—law n.62, art.23 (School Reform called “Buona Scuola”)—stating that the fulfillment of the duty of education by the parents must be proved through annual school exams. Up until that day our regulation protected the freedom of teaching, and families that chose this path simply had to notify the school officials on a yearly basis. Examination used to take place only when the child wanted to return to school or when the parents wanted to legitimate their child’s educational path. The families will now have to produce a personal curriculum (in Italian) and a written request for the exam. This paperwork needs to be presented to the school for approval in the months of March/April. Once all is approved, the school will inform the family about the exam procedures and dates. These exams usually take place in the month of June. If you are foreign family who will reside in Italy only for a few years, you most likely won’t be bothered by the exam.
Despite what the Ministry of Education affirms, a group of families is going against these rules and has contacted a team of lawyers to assist them in the refusal of the annual examination. They believe that the duty of monitoring education by the authorities should be based on a positive and direct dialogue between principals and families, with respect for different curricula and personal learning methods.
Homeschooling in Italy
Last Updated: June 8, 2018