Speaking in Florence on Monday, Minister Giuliano Poletti said it was time to tackle Italy’s lengthy summer holidays.
“One month of holidays is fine. But it’s not an obligation to do three of them. Perhaps one could be used to do training,” he was quoted in Rai News as saying.
Italy’s three-month summer break is more than twice as long as some European countries, such as the UK where children have an average of six weeks holiday. While precise dates vary, German pupils are also given around six weeks and French children eight weeks.
Not only are Italy’s school holidays too long, but Poletti said it’s about time Italian students developed “better relations with the world of work”.
The father-of-two said his children spent their summers working at a fruit warehouse and encouraged other students to start working, instead of hanging out on city streets.
“Us parents, society, must reconsider the topic of work and the young generations,” Poletti said.
Traditionally Italy lacks a culture of teenagers working part-time, with many not getting their first job until after they graduate from university. Facing an increasingly international labour market, young Italians with no work experience can find it hard to compete against their European counterparts.
Poletti’s comments won the backing of Education Minister Stefania Giannini, who agreed it is useful for children to get used to the world of work. Additionally, Giannini said work experience helped “orientate the choices of who will go to university”.
Mario Rusconi, vice president of the National Headmasters’ Association (ANP), said the government should also be making use of school buildings during the summer holidays.
“For years we’ve asked for there to be intelligent plans to use school resources during the summer, seeing that during these months the schools are largely unused,” he was quoted in Il Sole 24 Ore as saying.