Child banned from Rome school over Ebola fears

A three-year-old girl has been banned from a school in Rome after a holiday to Uganda, over fears that she may have contracted the deadly Ebola disease present in other African countries.

Child banned from Rome school over Ebola fears
The girl was stopped from going back to the school in Fiumicino, Rome province. School photo: Shutterstock

The child was prevented from returning to the nursery school in Fiumicino after her classmates’ parents protested that she could have Ebola.

The reaction of parents at the Fiumicino school was described as “alarmist” and “absolutely unjustified” by the Italian health minister.

“The minister of health, Beatrice Lorenzin, expresses her solidarity with the family of the young girl and notes that Uganda is not a country affected [by Ebola] and is very far from the area in West Africa struck by Ebola,” she said in a note published online.

When contacted by The Local, a spokesperson for the school was not available to comment.

SEE ALSO: Woman suffers racist 'Ebola' attack in Rome

Esterino Montino, Fiumicino's mayor, appealed for calm and said “fears should not be transformed into discrimination.”

“I have spoken to the director of the Isola Sacra school, who reassured me that having carried out the necessary checks, understanding the protocols at international airports, the school of the nursery school on Via Coni Zugna will remain open for all children, including the little girl who has returned from her travels in Uganda,” the mayor wrote on Facebook.

Italian parents are not the first to react in such a way over the Ebola virus. Earlier this month a child from Sierra Leone was prevented from attending classes at a school in north-west England after complaints from parents.

The mother of the nine-year-old boy said the ban was “heartbreaking” and the fault of “an ignorant parent body”, local media reported.

The Ebola outbreak has left nearly 5,000 people dead in West Africa, although it has now been contained to just three countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Ugandan capital Kampala is, as the map below shows, nearly 5,000km from Monrovia, the capital of Liberia which has been hardest hit by Ebola.

Google Maps

Screenshot: Google Maps

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Italian schoolkids make friends easily but suffer high anxiety

Italy's schoolchildren get top marks for socializing but suffer from high levels of anxiety, according to an OECD survey investigating student wellbeing in the developed world.

Italian schoolkids make friends easily but suffer high anxiety
File photo: Pexels

The most recent Pisa education rankings, released by the OECD on Wednesday, looked at issues such as students' wellbeing, their sense of belonging, and anxiety levels.

And the results suggest the Italian school system is one of the world's most stressful.

More than half of Italian pupils said they felt nervous when studying, compared to an OECD average of 37 percent. A vast majority (77 percent) felt nervous when unable to complete a task, compared to an average of 62 percent.

And 70 percent felt anxious about tests, even when they had prepared – a figure which was just 56 percent on average across all the countries included – while 86 percent worried about getting poor grades. 

“Schoolwork-related anxiety is one of the main predictors of low life satisfaction among students, and, in Italy, anxiety is more frequent in schools where students study more than 50 hours a week,” noted the study authors.

In fact, Italians spend significantly more time studying than their peers in other countries.

More than one in five dedicated over 60 hours per week (in and out of school) to their schoolwork, compared to just 13 percent on average across OECD countries.

READ ALSO: 'Bring your own loo roll', broke Italian school tells kids

But it wasn't all bad news for students' wellbeing.

The vast majority of Italian youngsters said they made friends easily at school: 83 percent compared to an average of 78 percent.

Italians were less likely than other nationalities to describe themselves as lonely, an outsider, or awkward at school – despite the fact that they were less likely than average to feel liked by other students. Across all countries surveyed, 82 percent of students agreed with the statement 'Other students seem to like me', but this figure was five percentage points lower in Italy.

All in all, Italians were slightly less satisfied with their lives than the average, with 65 percent describing themselves as such, compared to an OECD average of 71 percent.

Boys were slightly more likely to be satisfied than girls, and boys also reported lower levels of school-related anxiety.

The study also quizzed students on their use of free time, and Italians came out as one of the most tech-obsessed nationalities. Almost one in four schoolchildren admitted to using the Internet for over six hours per day outside school.

These students fitted into the category of 'extreme Internet users' and, in common with other countries, in Italy they were more likely to skip or be late to school, receive lower grades, and less likely to complete university.

READ ALSO: Italian children study more than their peers but do worse at school

Italians study more than their peers but do worse at school: OECD