The situation we are experiencing shows a School that temporarily delivers the management of learning to Italian families, not without difficulty and effort. “Those who sow reap” is a proverb of unknown author, but which in recent days represents a fact for many third sector Italian players operating in the field of education. Operators and educators who today prove even more of fundamental importance to support, even if only virtually, the handover that parents are called to face.
Families cooperate with Schools, supported by third sector organisations
We talked about this with Domenica Pagano, representative of the Parents’ Association Bal.ga.sar from Comprehensive Institute “Centro Storico”, founded in Sestriere della Maddalena, a neighborhood in Genova which has been affected the most by change at social, historical and urbanist level.
The association is been supporting the school since many years on multiple levels: advocating for interculturality and social solidarity, fighting early school leaving, promoting mutualism between the school, the families and the local territory.
As both a parent and a social sector operator, Domenica told us about how technologies are supporting education in this difficult situation and the ways in which teachers – even if with different approaches and enthusiasm – are making an effort in adopting them.
Electronic register, didactic material sent to students, virtual lessons: all useful tools that require, however, a series of methodological-didactic skills that families cannot always make available. In this regard, in fact, the parents organised themselves in different ways, first of all through chats and virtual groups:
Thanks to technology we’ve been able to manage the initial turmoil and to reach all parents, especially those living in more difficult conditions, like families with a migration background; then we activated a telephone line to directly assist families, for example to apply for the government bonus from 16th march. We are trying to understand how technology is effectively helping without excluding those parents lacking the necessary resources. The relationships built all over the years are allowing us to stay connected.
Bal.ga.sar association is really committed in leaving no-one behind: in fact, together with Association “il Ce.Sto” have started a web radio and a Facebook page.
Innovation against inequalities
Despite all the efforts and initiatives, still remains a great concern for the families living in social and economical disadvantages. According data collected by Save the Children in 2019, more than 1 family out of ten (11.3%) is living in absolute poverty; the 17% out of 750 thousand single-parent families lives in absolute poverty and this is the same condition of 1 out of 3 families (31%) in which both parents have a migratory background. In general, 20% of families with minors lives in condition of relative poverty.
Today there are 1.260.000 minors living in absolute poverty in Italy.
In a recent article published on Vita.it it is stated that organisations such as Investing in Children and Alleanza per l’Infanzia are asking the Italian Government and the key stakeholders of the education system to assign teacher for minors living in conditions of educational poverty, supplying them with digital devices and access to the Internet.
In such disadvantaged contexts it is hard to count on parents’ skills, that’s why it is necessary to give continuous support to the families. Domenica Pagano explains that without the years spent in building significant relationships between the school and the families today it wouldn’t have been possible to organise an immediate and effective type of support system like this.
The problem, in fact, remains the overall lack of edtech supplies in schools, along that of teachers’ digital skills.
The important role of educating communities
The emergency we are now facing serves us as a reminder: it is necessary to invest in strengthening the educating communities’ skills, the only subjects capable at structural level of supporting a situation like this. It does not suffice to focus our attention on technology and homeschooling if we don’t pay attention to the need and abilities of the subjects involved – that is, schools, third sector organisations, parents and kids.
How can we make the most of the time spent in homeschooling, which tools allow us to include everyone and how can we guarantee the right to education for millions of students?
It is now time to learn and be inspired by a variety of bottom-up initiatives such as Incontrarsi per casa, lezionisulsofa.it, #LibrisSimo | Lettura ad alta voce via web, to empower the educating community in its bridging role between families, teachers and schools.
It will be a school year never seen before, a starting point for new pedagogical scenarios and new alliances that we hope are “seeds for a good harvest”.