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Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

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Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
A student uses her mobile phone in class. Photo by Fred DUFOUR / AFP

Italy's schools to ban mobile phones, man cleared of strangling wife while asleep, transport ministry under fire over a botched road safety campaign, and more news from around Italy on Friday.

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Italy's top story on Friday: 

Education Minister Giuseppe Valditara on Thursday announced that Italian students will soon be banned from using mobile phones and tablets in the classroom even when using them for learning purposes.

The incoming crackdown, which concerns kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, will extend the scope of an existing ban on the non-educational use of smartphones which was introduced in Italy in 2007 but has been loosely enforced so far, news agency Ansa reported.

Valditara said the decision stemmed from a need to reduce distractions for students as well as to defend teachers' authority.

Last year, the UN recommended that smartphones be banned from schools around the world on grounds that they distract students and have a negative impact on learning.

Albanian parliament approves contested migrant deal with Italy

Albanian MPs on Thursday ratified a controversial deal with Italy under which asylum seekers rescued at sea by the Italian coast guard will be held in two migrant centres on Albania’s northern Adriatic coast, AFP reported.

The ratification, which came exactly a week after Italy’s senate gave its own seal of approval to the agreement, passed with a backing of 77 out of 140 MPs.

Under the deal signed last November by PM Giorgia Meloni and her Albanian counterpart Edi Rama, the Albanian centres will house up to 3,000 people at any one time while Italy examines their asylum requests.

The agreement has so far been the target of widespread criticism from migrant rights groups and opposition forces in both countries, with the UN previously raising questions about its compliance with international refugee law.

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Man acquitted of strangling wife while asleep

A court in Italy has acquitted a man who tried to strangle his wife while asleep, ruling that he was suffering from a sleep disorder, AFP reported following a hearing on Thursday.

His wife had to bite him to wake him to stop the attack, which happened in January 2021, the court in Brescia, in Italy's northern Lombardy region heard.

"I didn't mean to, I was sleeping," the man, in his 60s, told the court repeatedly. He thought he was struggling against burglars who had already attacked his wife and son, he said.

Once he realised what he had done, he threw himself out of the window of their third-floor flat in the village of Braone, seriously injuring himself.

The couple are now separated, but his wife told the court that she had never suffered any violence from him. She was not a plaintiff in the case.

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Italy’s transport ministry in road safety campaign blunder 

Three road safety videos from Italy's transport ministry urging young drivers to put down their smartphones drew attention for the wrong reasons on Wednesday as the actors failed to wear their seatbelts,

The videos, showing scenarios including a driver getting distracted by a mobile phone, drug abuse while at the wheel, and driving at high speed.

But viewers were quick to spot the absence of seat belts, and dozens of scathing social media posts pointed out the problem to Transport Minister Matteo Salvini in the space of a few hours. 

Following the online backlash, campaign director Daniele Falleri told AFP on Thursday that he would modify the footage "so that viewers are not distracted from the only aim that we really care about: raising everyone's awareness to contribute [...] to saving human lives".

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