*** Italian school types

Italian School Types

Italian school types
Figure 1.--This is one of the first year classes at the Ginasio Parini in Milan during 1935. The boys would be about 12 years old. This would be a state secondary school.

The three major types of schools in Italy are the state schools, religious schools (Mostly Catholic), and privae schools. The Catholic Church has had a huge historical impactb in Italian educarion. It shiould be rembered that the meduieval universities that played such and important role in the Renaissance were fojunded and run by the Church. The greatest number of children by a large number are the public, secular schools. The Caholic Church in southern Europe was not as cimmitted to oiblic education as Protestant nirthern Eyuripe (18=9th cebtyry), buit these differences disappeared un the 20th century. The Church lost control of public education and thus ooened Cathollic prichial schools. Schoolwear has varied at these different school types. The schools has varied over time as well as the state's control over the different schools. Perhaps influenced by the era of Austrian control, we find secondary schools called Ginasios. We believe that these are state schools.

State Schools

The basic state school systenm is explained in the school system section. A basic understanding of the Italian school system is needed to undrastand how clothing differed at the various schools. Italy did not emerge as a unified country until the 1860s. As a result we can only begin talking about an Itlalian school systen until the 1860s. Modern schools are similar to the educational system that has developed in other European countries. We have some information on the current system, but still little information on the Italian school system before the modern era. Perhaps influenced by the era of Austrian control, we find secondary schools called Ginasios. We believe that these are state schools.

Religious Schools

There are two types of religious schools. One is for educating the priesthood. The other is for educating the children of Castholic prushioners. We do not know a great deal about the history of Catholic education. The first priests essentially produced by on the job training so to speak. the Apostles took desciples under their wing. A major issue for the medieval church was a poorly educated clergy. We think the first European schools after the fall of Rome was song schools set up by cathedrals and monastaries to provide music, but these evolved into schools to train new priests, friars, and monks. The Church played a major role in education that gradually developed in the medieval era. And this included the universities that began to form in medieval Europe and would shape European thought. Many if the oldest universities were Italian, the birth place of the Renaissance. The oldest was the University of Bologna (1088). (Which is interesting given that the polite American slang term for nosence is 'baloney'.) The universities began as educatiinal institutions for the clergy, but developed into much more, including secular learning. Gradually secular education became increasingly important in Europe, although this shift including public schools was led by Protestant Europe and Protestant United States. Italy was unified (1860s). The new Italian Government like other European countries had to address the issue of Church control of education. This led to the secularization of education and the Church creating a system of Catholic/parochial schools.

Seminaries and theological institutes

The modern educatiion system was formulaed by the Council of Trent (1545-63). This was the Church gathering that addressed the challenge of the Protestant Reformation. One of the many decisions tken at the Council required the creation of diocesan seminaries with the canon 'Cum Adolescentium Aetas', adopted during the council's twenty-third session (1563). It became compulsory for every diocese to erect a seminary for the purpose of educating the local clergy. A poorly educated clergy was an ussue throughout the medieval era. Not only did the dioceses establish seminaries, but so did the various orders (Dominicans, Francisians, Jesuits, etc.) The Jesuites were especially known for fostering learning. The seminaries at first accepted boys with limited schooling or eventually primary--level schooling. Seminaries were a way that working-class boys could obtain an educatiion. Another rend at play affecting the semjinaries was the increasing working-class turn to socialism which meant the groth iof atheism. Middle-class boys also enrtered the seminaries, but in smaller numbers. After World War II, as secondaru education became more common and thus available to the working class. The seminaries became more focused on boys after they completed secondary school. The number of seminarians has decreased in recent years with the increasing secularization of European society. A Wiki page lists about 50 seminaries in Italy, but many were no longer active. Another Wiki page suggests there are about 1,250 seminarianns in Italy. Graduates of the seminaries are essentiually university graduates. A range of theological institutes are essentialkly graduate-level studies.


The Catholic church has played a major role in Italian education. There were religion classes taught by priests even in the state schools. Thus I do not think there were jus the same as parochial schools in America. Parochial schools were established in America, because the early public schools had aargely Protestant character. This was not the case in Italy. There do seem to have been charity schools. There were also private schools. This may have changed since as since World War Ii, the Italian school system has become more secular. Italy is a largely Catholic country, thus most private schools were Catholic. Private schools here meant fee paying schools. This could be schools established by individuals and not the Church itself. We are not sure if the Church estanlished schools other than charity schools. There may be some other religious schools in modrn Italy, but we have few details at this time.

Private Schools

At all levels of education there are completely private institutions (scuole private) administered by private individuals or bodies corporate, charging fees and issuing qualifications that are not legally recognized. At primary level, their creation requires the authorization of the MPI; at secondary level they do not require such approval but must comply with public order, hygiene and health regulations. There are also officially recognized private schools. At primary level, these are subsidized schools (scuole sussidiate), established after they have the approval of the Provincial Director of Education, or state authorized schools (scuole parificate), opened only by corporations, associations or organizations on the basis of an agreement with the Provincial Director after they have the approval of the MPI. At secondary level, they are legally recognized schools (scuole legalmente riconosciute) or state authorized schools (scuole pareggiate) according to Ministerial Decree. The former may be administered by public bodies or individuals, the latter by non-state or religious public bodies. In recognized schools, the curricula, pupil assessment and teachers' qualifications must be similar to those in state schools. No fees are charged in recognized primary schools; and whilst recognized secondary schools do charge fees, they must provide free places to secondary level pupils receiving local authority scholarships. The State rarely provides aid to private schools and then only in the form of subsidies or grants to institutions which cater for educational or social needs that state education does not meet.


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Created: September 1, 2001
Last updated: 8:12 AM 12/4/2022