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INFORMATION ABOUT ITALIAN SITUATION - Anna Bianco

INCLUSION IN EDUCATION

In Italy, is effective the complete school integration  in all types of schools. A short historical and legislative note is important to understand the integration process.

Up to 1970 children with disabilities attended so-called special schools and/or special classes within normal schools. These special schools and classes accepted children with every type of disability (blind, deaf, those with mental or physical disabilities of whatever severity). During that period, two important trends occurred in Italy that radically influenced the government's approach to providing schooling for pupils with disabilities:

1) The Industrial Boom. During the 1960s and 1970s, Italy enjoyed a full-scale economic boom with rapid industrial development. This brought with it a massive migration of labor in particular from Southern Italy, to the industries in the large cities of Northern Italy. In consequence, the children of these migrant families were uprooted from their cultural context. They often had difficulty in verbal communication, since in their places of origin they had generally spoken only their local dialect. In many cases they experienced considerable difficulty at school, as they had trouble understanding Italian, interrelating with their peers and being accepted into a new and very different social environment. These difficulties in turn caused learning problems; for teachers, the easiest solution was often that of transferring such pupils to special classes.

In 1974, the Ministry for Public Education[1] recorded a rapid increase in the number of special classes (in the school year 1970-71 there were 6,199 special classes in the elementary school [age 6-11] and 878 special classes in the middle school [age 11-14]. It became apparent that many children whose only problem was one of social adaptation were being placed in special classes, which until then had contained children with mental or physical disabilities. In effect, such placement further marginalized these migrant children.

2) Student Unrest. The Commission was also forced to come to terms with the another phenomenon of those years: the student unrest that began in 1968. This movement accused schools of being élitist and of marginalizing pupils from less privileged backgrounds. The wider question of the marginalization of persons with disabilities became the object of lively debate, in academic circles, on the part of the trade unions, and in the mass media. Calls came from many sides to end the isolation of "different" individuals and to abolish the special schools[i]. It was realized that there is a continual interaction between disability and social marginalization: social marginalization frequently causes disability, and disability in turn causes social marginalization.

Italian research of those and later years (Cancrini, 1974; Mannoni, 1976; Bellomo & Ribolzi, 1976; Cameroni, 1983) demonstrated that the incidence of persons with disabilities is significantly higher among social classes that are at an economic and cultural disadvantage, and that difficulty in adapting to school is frequently linked to environmental factors, in particular to socio-cultural and economic factors. They maintained that social interaction in a context of normality is a basic condition for the growth of the personality, and enables the subject to develop self-esteem and a sense of personal identity and of his or her role in society. The special classes were set up with the intent of helping children with disabilities to take their place in society; however, by depriving them of the possibility of interacting with their peers without disabilities, they had the opposite effect: social marginalization of the subject and aggravation of the disability.

A Ministerial Commission was set up to examine the problem and propose solutions. The Final Report of the Commission (1975) demanded "a new way of being for schools, the fundamental condition for full scholastic inclusion". It said that "overcoming every form of marginalization of persons with disabilities entails a new way of conceiving and organizing schools, so that every child, every adolescent must be accepted and their personal growth must be encouraged". It also said that "attending normal schools for persons with disabilities does not make it impossible for minimum common cultural goals to be achieved". Based on the Commission's Final Report, Circular No. 227, was issued by the Ministry for Public Education on August 8th 1975. This document stated that the goals to be achieved, inclusion of children with disabilities in normal schools and normal classes, "will be made possible through the transformation and renovation of schools, which must progressively acquire the capability of accepting those pupils who, during the years of obligatory schooling, have particular difficulty in learning and adaptation".

The "special classes system" was, on the basis of Circular No. 227, gradually replaced by the "inclusion system", which means that, starting from the school year 1976/77, special classes in elementary schools [age 6-11] were abolished and pupils with and without disabilities entered the same classes. Teachers who had worked in the special schools were transferred to normal schools to work as "support" teachers, i.e. additional teachers allocated to classes that contained children with disabilities.

It is significant that the Italian Constitution sanctions the right to work for all citizens. This became the central point around which demands from the families of children with disabilities revolved. Associations of parents of children with disabilities were formed, and received support from the trade unions. The right to work permeates the entire inclusion policy, since the right to work gives rise to the right to receive an education, the right to receive professional training, and the right to utilize public services.

Subsequently the Italian Government and the Ministry for Public Education issued approximately 50 laws, decree laws, decrees, ministerial orders and circulars. These regulated the several problems relating to inclusion in school, and addressed the various problems as they emerged. The questions tackled were that of overcoming and eliminating material obstacles and barriers; providing free transport to and from school for pupils with disabilities; providing basic personal care for pupils with disabilities in schools; setting up medical services; introducing activities to facilitate inclusion and support; making school organization more flexible (for example combining two classes together for logistic reasons and deciding numbers and hours of support teachers); deciding the contents of examinations for children with disabilities (a significant problem, since the middle school diploma in Italy is valid for the purposes of entering the labor market); ensuring continuity throughout the education system; assessing pupils with disabilities; producing a Personalized Education Plan for each pupil with disabilities; and reaching agreement between schools, municipalities, medical and social services.

After two decades during which regulations of various types had addressed specific aspects of the difficulties arising from the inclusion of pupils with disabilities in schools, on February 5th 1992, Law No. 104 was passed. This is a Framework Law bringing together all the previous directives, and also concerns other questions including professional training, entrance onto the labor market (large firms were obliged to employ a specific percentage of individuals with disabilities in their workforce), and social inclusion. The Framework Law defines individuals with disabilities as "persons who have a physical, mental or sensory disability, whether stable or progressive, that causes difficulty in learning, interrelation or inclusion, such as to give rise to a process of social disadvantage".

Briefly the history of the laws about the school integration was:

In brief, the laws and regulations concerning integration of the disabled are as follows:

  • The Italian Constitution enshrines the right to study and work, thus equal opportunities for all citizens.
  • Law no. 1073/1962: persons with disabilities, during the years of obligatory schooling (6/12 years), may frequent "differential" or "special" classes or sections
  • Law 1859/1962 set up a single middle school and provided for refresher classes and differential classes for "pupils who are scholastically non-adapted "
  • Law 444/1968 set up special sections for children between three and five years with "intelligence or behavioural disorders or with physical or sensory disabilities"

Until 1968, then, insertion in "normal" classes was not provided for, but with the migration caused by industrial development and with the "post-1968 cultural revolution", true scholastic integration was introduced. This is the sequence of legislative measures:

  • Law 118/1971: for the first time this law required that pupils with disabilities be inserted in ordinary classes
  • Law 517/1977: this organised classes containing pupils with disabilities, determined the tools for integration and support, and above all the teachers with particular specialised qualifications (the support teachers)
  • Law 270/1982: this defined the administrative role of the support teacher
  • Constitutional Court Sentence no. 215 dated 1987 states that education must be guaranteed for all, and not only for those defined as "capable and worthy"; others must be rehabilitated through integration and insertion into normal classes; pupils with disabilities "can" attend high school
  • the subsequent CM 262 dated 3/6/1987 gave indications to schools, local health authorities and other local bodies concerning application of the above sentence, in particular the possibility to hire additional teaching staff for support and the possibility of running simplified or different programmes for pupils with mental disabilities, providing them with an attendance certificate that would be valid for professional training
  • Law 104, dated 1992, is known as the "Framework Law for Assistance, Social Integration and the Rights of the Disabled", and brings together and integrates all the regulations issued previously. It concerns not only scholastic integration, but also social integration and integration at work. Among others it enshrines the right to sports activities
  • Legislative Decree no. 297 dated 1994 is a Single Text of scholastic legislation that, among others, stresses what was already established by Law 104 for the integration of pupils with disabilities
  • In Presidential Decree no. 275/1999 (which regulates the independence of scholastic institutions) support for a disability becomes "attention toward differences": the expression "differently-able person" begins to gain ground
  • In 2000 there was an address to parliament on the state of realisation of the Framework Law concerning persons with disabilities, with a series of statistics some of which are given below.

The Italian Framework Law is complex and complete, although the principles it contains have not always been put into practice: this is a long process of evolution that is still being consolidated, and the scholastic integration process has also stimulated social and work integration.

Thirty  years after the start of the school integration process, the results achieved reveal a very high degree of inclusion[2], as may be seen from the following data:

Number of integrated disabled pupils by type of handicap and type of school

s. y. 2001/02: http://www.istruzione.it/

SCHOOLS

TIPOLOGY OF HANDICAP

total

% of total handicapped concerning school national pupils

Phyco-physical

Blind

Deaf

Kinder-garten
[age 3-6]

12,343

369

824

13,540

0.92 %

Elementary School
[age 6-11]

54,076

921

2,254

5,251

2.12%

Middle School
[age 11-14]

44,434

560

1,304

46,298

2.60%

High School
[age 14-19]

19,405

685

1,469

21,559

0.95%

Total

130,262

2,535

5,851

138,648

1.68%

%  for handicap

1.58%

0.03%

0.07%

1.68%

 

Total number of integrated pupils in Italian schools  (MPI)

s.y. 2001/02,   http://www.istruzione.it/

School year

SCHOOLS

Total

Kinder-garten
[age 3-6]

Elementary School
[age 6-11]

Middle School
[age 11-14]

High School
[age 14-19]

1992/93

10,342

51,745

44,095

6,152

112,334

1993/94

12,254

51,058

42,986

7,384

113,682

1994/95

12,284

49,660

42,749

9,546

114,239

1995/96

12,302

50,228

42,830

10,377

115,737

1996/97

12,643

49,407

43,201

12,852

118,103

1997/98

12,819

51,691

43,297

15,142

122,949

1998/99

12,811

53,149

42,789

17,059

125,808

1999/00

12,789

52,826

43,201

21,330

130,146

2000/01

12,948

54,513

43,740

21,445

132,646

2001/02

13,540

57,251

46,298

21,559

138,648

In each school there are support teachers, depending on the size of the school: 1 support teacher for 138 students. When there are a pupil with serious disability a derogation is possible.

With regard to the practice of sports, Law No 104 states that there must be "no limitation whatsoever" on its practice and that "accessibility and usability of sports structures and related services by handicapped persons" must be guaranteed, where "usability must be understood to include the presence of properly trained technical staff to treat the different types of handicap".

INCLUSION IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION

The first laws concerning integration of pupils with a disability in the educational structure date from 1975. Special schools were abolished. All students who needed special education were now integrated in normale schools (untill the age of 15), with the aid of specialised teachers.

In Italy the schools organises sport activities for the pupils, under the indications of Ministry of Public Education (MPI). 

Frequently this leads to spontaneous integration in schoolsports. In the official school competitions, integration is realised for some initiatives of teachers, but not in the official national school competitions.

Thereby municipalities more frequently organise and finance some local competitions for disabled schools' pupils: normal pupils are present and see their class-rooms friends during their competitions and the feeling increased more and more.

There are schools, in different countries, that realise some special projects for disabled sport school. Often local sports federations for disabled sponsore and promote these initiatives and push up the projects. So school integration became the start point for a new attention and for collaboration between the schools and the sports federations.

On web site of Ministry of Education: www.istruzione.it/index.html there are a specific link for handicap.

Others interesting web site: http://www.bdp.it/handitecno/ ; www.istruzione.it/argomenti/handicap

Training of support teachers and APA teachers

a) The support teachers received a vocational training with two-years specific polyvalent cours organized by Ministry of Education: since 1999  there are University specific training.

The contents of this training are multi-purpose, that is pertinent to all subjects and there are also teaching espressive/psychomotor and APA .

b) Since1998, with l'institution of  the new university in Motricity Sciences in accordance with Bologna agreement (3 +2 +3)  the Physical Education and Sport Teachers  training comprise an APA training  (4 - 6) ECTS in the triennial basic formation; many Universities begin also a following specialized training in APA (2 years) and master (normally 1 year).

Actually 30 universities have open basic training (3 years):


The following Universities start up also APA specialisation course: 2 years after the 3 years of basic formation:

http://www.apaitaliana.it/ is an interesting site, which was set up very recently and whose goal is to become the reference point for APA in Italy. APAITALIANA, a legally-constituted non-profit ONLUS association, is the Italian section of IFAPA (International Federation in APA), whose President is on the Committee of Honour of APAITALIANA. On this website, indications concerning European training, conferences and congresses will be made available, and there will be areas available for discussion among the disabled.

INCLUSION IN SPORT ACTIVITIES

FISD (Italian Federation for Disabled Sports, Federazione Italiana Sport Disabili) was founded in 1990, through a voluntary merger of three pre-existing national federations: FISHa (Italian Federation for Handicapped Sports, Federazione Italiana Sport Handicappati), Fics (Italian Federation for Blind Sportsmen and women, Federazione Italiana Ciechi Sportivi) and FISSI (Italian Federation for the Silent of Italy, Federazione Italiana Silenziosi d'Italia). FISHa had been active since the early 1960.

Through a special Decree Law, FISD is now known as CIP (Italian Paralympic Committee, Comitato Italiano Paralimpico) and it conforms to the principles set forth by the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) to regulate international sport for the disabled.

All relevant information may be found on: http://www.fisd.it/link_aff.asp

The statute is already in operation, although definitive approval by the Ministry for Culture and Cultural Activities has not yet been finalised.

On recommendations from CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee, Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano) CIP is under the supervision of the Ministry for Culture and Cultural Activities. It thus has organisational and managerial independence, unlike the other 42 Sports Federations active in Italy

Ministry for Culture and Cultural Activities

CONI CIP

42 Sports Federations
(e.g. track-and-field sports,
badminton, basketball,
volleyball, swimming, rugby)

Activities at three levels:
Promotion
Competition
Paralympics

CIP comprises the affiliated sports associations and individual members, and is subdivided into Sports Departments. Activities concern the different types of handicap (physical, intellectual, visual, etc.). It may present proposals and observations, relating to legislation surrounding sport for the disabled, to the Ministry for Culture and Cultural Activities and, through the Ministry, to the Government and to Parliament. CONI, together with CIP, carries out activities to promote sport for the disabled and for Olympics and Paralympic preparation.

CIP is subdivided into:

  1. central and equity organs;
  2. local structures;
  3. recognised bodies for sports promotion (affiliates, sports clubs, associations, federations for specific sports, promotional organisations).

Among the central organs, the National Board operates to popularise the idea of the Paralympics and to promote disabled sport, ensuring and co-ordinating all activities relating to sport for the disabled throughout Italy (that of affiliates and individual members, of federations for specific sports and of promotional organisations). Four disabled athletes are on the Board (including at least one woman and at least one athlete who has taken part in the Paralympic Games or in World Championships for disabled athletes).

Two disabled athletes are on the National Council, which is the steering, executive and controlling committee.

The federations for specific sports comprise sports clubs and similar organisations, as well as individual members who practise disabled sport.

At present there are approximately 6,000 affiliated associations, with approximately 15,000 member athletes from 20 regions of Italy. Active sports are:

  • Archery
  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Canoe and kayak
  • Cycling
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Goalball
  • Gymnastics
  • Horse-Riding
  • Judo
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Table-tennis
  • Target-shooting
  • Tennis
  • Torball
  • Track-and-field sports
  • Winter sports

At http://www.fisd.it, a link for each specific sport provides news and information about that sport.

CIP is represented throughout Italy by its local structures, that co-operate with the central organs: there are 20 Italian Regions, hence 20 regional CIP committees.

Many Regional Committees have their own website providing information, and to popularise their activities; see for example http://www.fisdpiemonte.it/; http://www.fisd-sardegna.com/

Others interesting web sites:

Olympic National Italian Committee - http://www.coni.it/
Italian Federation Wheelchair Hockey - http://www.fiwh.it/
Italian Federation Disabile Underwater Activity- http://www.hsaitalia.it/
Italian Federation Golf Disable - A.G.I.D. - http://www.agidgolf.org/
ANPHA - Swimming Association for the Handicapped - http://www.anpha.it/
BIC Italia - The Wheelchair Basketball portal - http://www.basketincarrozzina.it/
OS.Ha. - A.S.P. - Sorts Advice for the handicapped - Sports Association for the Paraplegic - www.ricerche.com/osha/


[1] The Ministry for Public Education is the governmental body responsible for public education at all levels hroughout Italy

[2] In Italy the terms "insertion" and "integration" are used indistinctly, in the clear and well-understood meaning of the term "inclusion" as it is used in Europe; "inclusion" is not used in Italy. Complete social integration is the goal and the underlying supposition of all the regulations and laws that have been mentioned. This does not mean that, for example, all school teachers are able to achieve true integration, which remains in any case the target.


           

 

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