BM85: Access To The Teaching Profession Should Not Be A Privilege!
In Italy in the last years the shortage of teachers has grown up to 200,000 and this number is bound to grow. According to OECD data, teachers’ salaries in Italy are below the European average. Not to mention the social value recognised to the profession, which, according to the Global Teachers’ Status Index, stands at only 14 points out of 100.
Moreover, the world of teaching in Italy has always been characterised by an alarming incoming precariousness. According to a survey conducted by INDIRE in the last school year addressed to newly recruited teachers, 70% of the teachers interviewed prior to their recruitment had spent between 2 and 10 years as precarious teachers and 14% had spent more than 15 years in the same situation.
It is clear that in Italy there is a deep-rooted problem in the economic and social recognition of the teaching profession. In this scenario, the State would have a duty to invest in this sector, valuing teachers and encouraging students to take this path.
In the NRRP, Italy was required to change the pathways for access to the teaching profession to adapt to the demands of teacher training. With Law Decree 36 of the 30th of April 2022, Italy committed to publishing a Decree of the Prime Minister clarifying the new access modalities by the 31st of July 2022.
The Decree of the Prime Minister was published on the 4th of August 2023, with more than a year of delay. The courses that were outlined by this decree go in the totally opposite direction to the need to seriously invest in the training of future Italian teachers.
In fact, the compulsory courses qualifying them for the profession that will start from this academic year aim to lengthen the academic career of future teachers by one year, without coverage and measures to support their right to education, but with totally unaffordable costs. We are talking about figures of up to 2500 euros per person for those who have to complete the entire course, up to 2000 euros for those who only have to complete part of the course. In all this, the state plans not to invest funds for teacher training, making all the expenses fall on individuals.
Becoming a teacher cannot be a privilege for the few who can afford it: with this decree, one of the most discriminatory regulations in academia in recent years is being institutionalised.
In addition to the unaffordable costs, there is also the limited number of admissions: the decree does not provide for an entry selection, but Article 6 states that the Ministry of Education and Merit undertakes to communicate by February of each year the need for teachers by subjects. According to this information, the different training centres can then decide autonomously to include an entry selection, should the number of applications for a specific competition class exceed the level deemed ‘sustainable’ by the HEIs itself.
Adding to this already extremely serious scenario is a central element for us: the structuring of the course, with the division of the ECTS and the introduction of the internship. The choice of subjects was entirely decided by the ministry, without the involvement of student representatives, who were ignored in the request for a discussion. The mistakes and critical issues that emerged in previous courses for learning the teaching profession have been repeated in these new pathways as well.
In the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, the RFIE (reform of initial teaching training) has recently been adopted, changing access to the teaching profession quite drastically. When it was first proposed in 2011, APED, an association composed of actors for the education sector (teachers, union representatives, parents…) expressed reservations on that project and the political views behind it.
Their concerns were mostly regarding the commodification of education, linked to neoliberal policies. The initial reform aligns with European policies aiming to create an educational market. They emphasize the necessity of substantial funding to ensure the success of the reform and advocate for the coherence of the educational system, stressing the need to harmonize education into a single public network.
We share all these concerns, as well as some other that are more related to the students having to undergo these changes. Now that the reform has been put in place, we see concerning issues making accessibility to these studies more complicated for some, in a context of shortcomings of teachers. While some colleges and art schools would offer access to the profession after a 3-year bachelor, now the involved students will need to do an extra year with classes spread between their institution and a university.
This poses many issues, the most notable ones being :
⁃ That the university might not be in the same city as their campus which will force them to travel for up to 1h between classes, on a short timing.
⁃ That some required university classes, such as sociology or psychology, will not be changed with the students’ prospect and views in mind and will be given as regular research class.
⁃ The extended bachelor, making students have to pay an extra year of higher education which, according to our research, costs between 6,000 and 12,000 euros.
It is unacceptable that the cost of training is passed on to aspiring teachers, which is why as Unione degli Universitari, Fédération des Étudiants Francophones and European Students’ Union we demand that:
- the decree is revised immediately so that it does not offload the cost of training onto university students who want to enter the teaching profession;
- scholarships and specific support measures are provided to guarantee the right to affordable education of those who undertake these paths;
- the proposals made by the student representatives to improve these courses are taken into account, starting with the involvement of the National Council of University Students in the reformulation of the decree;
- the planned internships and practical parts become real training opportunities that can improve teacher training;
- the Italian state finally provides the necessary funding to improve the condition of teachers in Italy;
- the hypothesis of a numerus clausus system for individual HEIs is abolished, and the real possibility for all students wishing to undertake these courses is guaranteed.
- higher education limits its commodification and the changes are made with the students’ interests in mind
- that in Belgium, the co-diplomation is put in place with enough funding in all areas (education, transportation) for it to be possible for students
The Italian and Belgian education systems will only improve when it will be acknowledged that investments in the training, preparation and access to work of future teachers are necessary and essential!
Proposers: FEF, UDU
Seconders: ÖH, USI