The Italian network of educational institutions in the world: insights and materials to get to know more closely all the opportunities they offer to children and young people.
Italian State schools
Italian State schools in the world are a direct reflection of the Italian school system in foreign countries.
There are eight schools located in Addis Ababa, Asmara– temporarily closed from the 2020/2021 school year – Athens, Barcelona, Madrid, Istanbul, Paris and Zurich. These institutions offer full school education, thanks also to the state-authorized private schools that ensure the completeness of all levels of education.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education jointly manage the selection process for teachers who teach in Italian state schools abroad, choosing them from among candidates in the Italian teaching staff. Sending teaching staff from Italy helps create a deeper and more structural bond between Italian schools and Italian schools abroad. This results in the creation of dialogue and a mutual enrichment, especially in the exchange of good practices. Indeed, while emulating and applying national educational models, Italian schools abroad are engaged in a process of inclusion, typical of our pedagogical tradition, which ensures the generation of natural processes of metamorphosis and adaptation to the specific context. This has resulted over time in a greater presence of non-Italian students in these schools, thus enriching the environment with multicultural input and making schools not only a tool to support Italian communities abroad, but also a channel to promote Italian language and culture.
Italian state-authorized private schools
State-authorized schools (“scuole paritarie”) are schools managed by entities other than the State, which undertake to help achieve the educational purposes assigned to them by the Italian Constitution and are recognised by the State as having the same status as state schools. There are 43 Italian state-authorized private schools abroad. A list is available here. Found on all continents, they engage more than 16,000 pupils (data referring to the school year 2021/2022). They help promote the Italian language and culture according to foreign policy guidelines.
State-authorized private schools are recognised as having the same status of state schools subject to assessment by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in collaboration with the Ministry of Education on the basis of the analysis of the school curriculum, which must comply with the educational principles of the Italian schools and provide education consistent with the general rules of education. This recognition also guarantees the equivalence of rights and duties of the students, the same State exam procedures and the authorization to issue certificates with the same legal value as those of Italian state schools. The regular attendance of a private school constitutes the completion of compulsory education and the academic qualifications awarded allow the continuation of studies in Italy. Teaching in state-authorized private schools abroad is delivered by Italian teachers selected and assigned through the same procedures as apply to Italian state schools.
While complying with the Italian national school models, state-authorized private schools feature a more permeative relationship with the foreign education system. They are attended by a larger number of foreign students and the curricula are typically Italian, though having at the same time an international approach that means they are perceived by students as less traditional.
Predominantly established in the 1990s, Italian departments in foreign schools have taken on a strategic role over the decades. Like the other Italian schools abroad, they help not only to maintain the cultural identity of the children of Italian nationals and citizens of Italian origin, but also to promote and disseminate the Italian language and culture in foreign places. Often, these departments not only teach the Italian language but also teach other subjects in Italian.
The mapping of the Italian departments in foreign schools has traced a new geography of Italian schools in the world, expanding their borders. In the 2021/2022 school year, 85 Italian departments were active in foreign, bilingual or international schools (of which 68 in the European Union, 14 in non-EU European countries, one in Asia, one in the Americas and one in Oceania). More than half (49) are the result of international agreements in force.
The departments are a new and effective channel for tackling the challenge of promoting the Italian language in foreign school systems. In fact, the creation of Italian departments has enabled us to reach important areas where there are neither state schools nor state-authorized private schools, such as in the Balkans and, more generally, throughout Eastern Europe. Moreover, the growth margin of Italian departments abroad is very significant in areas such as Latin America, where their potential is still unexplored.
Italian departments in European schools
European Schools were established from 1953 onwards to provide multilingual and multicultural education, from nursery to secondary education, primarily for the children of EU institution officials, ensuring all pupils learning their native language. At the end of their studies, students acquire a European baccalaureate, recognized as equivalent to all the high school diplomas issued in the EU member states. The European schools adhere to a shared programme, established by merging the national programmes of the EU member states and featuring particularly advanced language learning.
There are are currently 13 European Schools in six EU countries: Belgium (Brussels I, II, III and IV, Mol), Germany (Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Munich), Italy (Varese), Luxembourg (Luxembourg I and II), Holland (Bergen), Spain (Alicante).
The Brussels I, II and IV, Frankfurt, Luxembourg II, Munich and Varese European Schools have Italian language departments.
In Italy, there are also two national schools approved under the European School System and therefore authorized to issue the European Baccalaureate: the “Scuola per l’Europa” in Parma and the Liceo Fermi-Monticelli European High School (upper secondary) which, along with the Istituto Comprensivo “Centro” (lower secondary), guarantee comprehensive European education in the city of Brindisi.
Non state-authorized Italian schools
This type of school (“scuole non paritarie”), also found in Italy, cannot award qualifications of legal value, i.e. valid for admission to higher education in Italy; however, they do fulfil the obligation of compulsory education.
Currently, the only non state-authorized Italian school abroad is located in Smyrna, Turkey.
Società Dante Alighieri schools
The Società Dante Alighieri was founded in 1889 by a group of intellectuals led by the Italian poet Giosuè Carducci and was established as a non-profit organisation through Italian Royal Decree no. 347 of 18 July 1893. Its aim is to “preserve and spread Italian language and culture throughout the world, rekindling the spiritual connection of compatriots abroad with their homeland and instilling in foreigners the sentiment of love and passion for Italian culture”. Over the years, the Società Dante Alighieri has established a number of schools abroad in order to pursue this objective. These schools offer multilingual and multicultural teaching, in the firm belief that language learning provides an opportunity for growth in terms of cognitive, emotional and social development. Education services range from nurseries to secondary schools and, in cases such as the Rosario committee, a Profesorado de Italiano is also offered. The aim of this initiative is to train Italian teachers working in the various state and private schools in the city of Rosario and the corresponding consular district. The Profesorado de Italiano provides a four-year course and a final internship, at the end of which a diploma is issued by the local Ministry of Education.
Società Dante Alighieri schools abroad can be found in Albania (Italian School in Tirana), Argentina (Campana, Las Flores, Rio Cuarto, Rosario, Villa Carlos Paz) and Paraguay (Asuncion). These are private schools which are legally recognised by the Ministry of Education in the country where they are located.