Minister Giuliano Poletti said a month-long holiday was fine for pupils, while also suggesting students spend more time working or in training over the summer.
His comments on work experience were backed by Italy’s education minister, Stefania Giannini, while also sparking a debate on the length of school holidays.
By standards in other European countries, Italy’s school holidays are somewhat excessive. Across the border in France pupils are given eight weeks outside the classroom, while in Germany there are around six weeks of summer holidays.
As The Local found out, there is some support for cuts to the length of Italy’s school break.
“Three months is too long, two months is enough,” said a refreshments seller by Rome’s Trevi Fountain.
Nearby, an Italian woman told The Local that cutting holidays in order to get older pupils into work was a good idea. But the long summer break should remain for younger children, she said.
Our readers agreed there should be greater focus on pupils’ future prospects during the summer months. “Work experience would be good for the older ones, if there is any work available,” Donatella Bellini wrote on The Local Italy's Facebook page.
Joining the debate, Francesca Santello Calzini said “one month of work experience would be ideal!”
But notwithstanding the difficulty in finding paid employment - Italy has a youth jobless rate of 41.2 percent - students may well struggle to find anywhere open to take them on.
“They should get work experience during the summer, but how since beginning the second half of July and, certainly, in August, almost all businesses close down?” wrote Antonia Protano.
Italy’s soaring summer temperatures can also make it difficult to stay in the classroom, Riccardo Spanu pointed out.
Whether for practical reasons or other concerns, in an Ansa poll the majority of voters said they disagreed with Poletti’s standpoint that school holidays are too long. With over 2,500 votes, 38 percent agreed with the minister.