Italian Language Blog

La Scuola in Italia – School in Italy Posted by on Aug 28, 2020 in Culture, Italian Language

Ciao a tutti!

Gli studenti (students), i genitori (parents), and gli insegnanti (teachers) are all preparing for the beginning of the school year. All around the world there is a lot of ansia, anxiety, about this school year given the circumstances with COVID-19.

Image from Pixabay, CCO.

In Italy the Minister of Education Lucia Azzolina has decided to open schools and hold classes in person. She has been adamant about schools reopening, stating: “vogliamo riaprirle, ma anche evitare che richiudano” (we want to open them, but also avoid them closing again.)

Schools will need to follow social distancing with some schools offering alternative days of instruction and staggered start times, as well as all teachers and pupils wearing masks and classroom sanitization happening multiple times a day. Some schools will even look to utilize outdoor and community spaces such as churches to help with social distancing.

Of course, this is not without controversy in Italy. Take a look at a recent and rather scathing report of Azzolina’s decision here, calling her il Ministro della Distruzione, the Minister of Destruction and stating that schools si brancola nel buio, schools are groping in the dark and totally unprepared to reopen.

Despite the sure difficulties of this school year, let’s take a general look at il sistema educativo, the education system, in Italy.

Scuola Materna – Kindergarten or Pre-school

From 3-6 years of age students in Italy can attend scuola materna for free. These schools are run on the state level, so entry is guaranteed, but it is not compulsory.

Scuola Primaria – Primary School

Starting at age 6, scuola primaria, or scuola elementare, is compulsory and lasts for 5 years. Students learn similar subjects as they do in the US, including English.

Scuola Secondaria – Secondary School

Scuola secondaria is divided into two sections. Scuola secondaria di primo grado (lower secondary school), also known as scuola media (middle school) is from 11-14 years of age. At this level students continue their studies in scuola primaria, as well as learning a second foreign language.

Scuola secondaria di secondo grado (upper secondary school) is also known as scuola superiore. At this level, students have a choice between attending liceo (high school), istituto tecnico (technical school), or istituto professionale (professional school). At liceo students will have to choose a specialization, such as science, art, or humanities. This will influence their studies at the university level as well. Istituto tecnico offers a broad education similar to that of the liceo but with a specifical technical specialization. Typically students also complete uno stage, or an internship in a company during their last year of study. Istituto professionale is a vocational school that teach students specific skills that allow them to immediately enter the workforce.

Alla prossima! 

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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.


  1. Andrea S.:

    Complimenti Bridgette, molto informativo e interessante. 👍

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