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International Education: Focus on Italy

Student/Country Focus

The January 2017 Student/Country Focus is provided by Francesca Peruzzo from Italy.

Francesa Peruzzo

Ciao a tutti!

My name is Francesca Peruzzo, and Italy is my country of origin. I am currently doing my PhD at the UCL Institute of Education in the department of Education, Practice and Society and my project focuses on Italian higher education disability policy and practices.

By using Foucauldian tools to research the practices that produce disability in the mundane academic routine, my ultimate aim is to show how, eventually, we are made out of what we do, and not a result of categorisations and labels! 

A special acknowledgment to the photographer Ximena Poblete.

Share Your Education Experience

Thank you to all the international students for sharing their experiences of education in their countries. 

If you are an international student or staff member and you would like participate in this Country/Student Focus, please fill out the form here.

Francesca's Experience of Education in Italy

Coming to London to pursue my PhD, I spent my entire educational journey in Italy except for one year on a university Erasmus programme in Spain – magical.

Primary and lower secondary school is the same for everyone, whilst upper-secondary school can be decided accordingly to someone’s own interests and attitudes. According to PISA (OECD, 2013), the Italian secondary education was ranked 21st, showing, however, a consistent gap between the performance of Northern and Southern schools.  

There are three choices which students can opt for in secondary education: lyceum, technical institute or professional institute. The first one is very focused on classical studies and humanities, the other two are more oriented towards practical subjects, preparing students to dive into the labour market soon after they finish their studies. I went for the classical studies career, as Greek and Latin have always fascinated me since I was young. Still now I can read text written in Greek, translating words just by recognising their ancient roots.

The three secondary school options engage with very different curricula, yet all students can invariably apply for university regardless of their former degree and subjects, making the Italian system less selective than the English one. In the past, the three careers were much more segregated, enabling just the elite to attend classical studies at university.

My university subject of choice was Sociology and Social Research, which I attended in one of the most renowned Italian sociology departments in the University of Trento. Sociology in Trento was the first of its kind in Italy, being the aftermath of the progressive protests of the 1968 movement against traditional establishment. It was during my academic studies in Trento that I became interested in disability issues, collaborating with the university as a disabled student assistant and engaging in workshops and discussion to raise awareness on accessibility and social justice towards disabled students. My passion brought me here to the Institute of Education, where I am developing further my studies hoping to become a researcher in disability studies!

To introduce you to the history of inclusive policies in Italy I recommend you to read the critical ethnography at the right carried out by one of the pioneer researchers promoting the Social Model of Disability in Italy, Simona D'Alessio, who did her PhD here at the IOE with Professor Len Barton as supervisor, one of the luminaries in this field.


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