Italy proposes overturning smartphone ban in schools

School children could soon be spending their lessons glued to the screen of their smartphones after Italy's under-secretary of education pledged to overturn a 2007 ban on the devices in classrooms.

Italy proposes overturning smartphone ban in schools
An Italian education minister has proposed overturning a directive banning children from using smartphones in class. Photo: SummerSkyes11/Flickr

“Enough with this luddism,” Davide Faraone, under-secretary for education, told La Stampa.

“The government is investing heavily to digitize our schools, so banning the use of phones and tablets in class is a bit of a contradiction.”

The Education Ministry outlawed mobile phones nine years ago and since then, many other places in Europe have followed suit.

In 2009, France banned them from primary schools, while the Spanish region of Castille-La Mancha outlawed them in all schools in 2014 in a bid “to end a daily battle” between teachers and students.

Even where bans do not exist, schools have routinely chosen to forbid phones in the classroom as they strive to keep students' on task. A reported 33 percent of all UK schools don't allow phones.

The ministry's decision to reintroduce the devices comes as part of a €1 billion government push to bring Italy's schools up-to-date.

Over the next few years, the government will install Wi-Fi and ultra-fast broadband in all schools and train teachers to use digital technologies as educational resources.

The plan will have children increasingly using smartphones and tablets to do their reading in class and submit their homework.

“It will greatly benefit students with learning difficulties and disabilities, as devices have a more instant impact,” Faraone said.

“I've seen this in my own daughter, who is autistic.”

The government hopes that by allowing children to use their phones in class, the high rates of cyber bullying among school children will fall.

According to national statistics agency, Istat, 5.9 percent of all youngsters are subject to cyber bullying and the tragic suicide of a 14-year-old earlier this year led to calls for the government to introduce laws to combat the problem.

“We can either ban the devices, or we can try and get teachers to educate children about how to use them responsibly,” Faraone said. 

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‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.