Sep 27, 2010
Teachers demonstrated across Italy on September 13, the day school began. Four thousand of them on temporary status blocked transportation across the Straits of Messina, separating the island of Sicily from the mainland.
On the mainland side, demonstrators came from Calabria, Campagna and Apulia. Together the teachers protested the elimination of jobs by the Berlusconi government. Over the last two years, the Italian government eliminated 67,000 teacher positions and 20,000 aide positions. For all of Italy there are more than one million people employed in education, including administrators and technical people. 133,000 jobs are supposed to be eliminated in three years, mostly by eliminating those in temporary positions. In Sicily, for example, 13,000 people will lose their jobs, which is especially serious as jobs are very hard to find there.
This policy is meant to cut ten billion dollars from the public education budget. The teachers point out that the Italian government has plans to build a bridge over the Straits of Messina costing 13 billion dollars. At the same time, the education minister wants to push the increased privatization of schools, that is, charters. They dare to call this “an historic reform.”
The education minister promises new academic, technical and professional high schools, supposedly permitting a better tie between school and employment, better English and scientific teaching and a more effective education system. But if so, it is supposed to be carried out with fewer teachers, with overcrowded classrooms, depriving students of educational support under worse physical conditions.
At the present time, tens of thousands of teachers don’t have a position or are anxiously trying to get a substitute job or even work as an aide. Sometimes they have to spend years on a waiting list before obtaining a job.
The September 13 demonstrations on both sides of the Straits of Messina delayed ferry transportation. Twenty-five protestors were charged with disturbing public order. In addition, protests against the government’s policy took place across Italy, even some hunger strikes. These protests are just a beginning against this disgusting plan to eliminate 133,000 positions.