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ing staff increasingly effective assistance to destitute families and those of men called to the service, and their buildings have served as gathering places in the civic life of the community. These schools have the definite aim of preparing the pupils for their environment, to improve it, and to train them in agricultural pursuits, in building better homes, and in improving means of communication. Especial attention is called in the report to the efficiency of the system of inspection of these schools. The direct attention focused by the minister of public instruction upon elementary education has been accompanied by marked success in keeping before the Italian people the vital importance of the schools during the period of national stress. The enrollment in elementary education, by the figures of January 1, 1916, exceeded by more than 500,000 that of the preceding year, and on an estimated gain in population of approximately a million. The branches of education related to the elementary, such as the asili, the kindergartens, the auxiliary schools, communal and private, and the parents' associations, have all shared in the benefits of this awakening, and all have been reenforced by private initiative. A culmination to the active efforts of the Italian Federation of Popular Libraries was seen in the royal decree of May, 1918, making compulsory a library of at least 50 volumes in each elementary school, to be purchased and maintained by the State and commune jointly. It is hoped that this compulsory popular library may become the nucleus for a system of popular education for the older members of the community; that, by means of large increase in the existing grant devoted to popular and school libraries, and a place set apart for the library in each new school, popular extrascholastic classes may be held; that for teachers of such schools recourse may be had, in small rural communities, to such educated persons as there may be in the vicinity, while help may be given by teachers from neighboring towns; and that ultimately attendance at such classes may be made obligatory up to the age of 18.
(b) scuole PopolarE; RURAL schools.
The putting of the souole popolare into operation is the most striking advance made in the field of Italian education during the past two years. The legal enactment constituting them was the result of an organic growth, combining features of the plans submitted by the Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Labor, in December, 1916, and by Sig. Ruffini, then Minister of Public Instruction, in February, 1917. Their compositely social and educational character is well illustrated by the history of the origin and passage of the law establishing them. The salient points of the scuole popolare, both in organization and aims, are as follows: 1. The Government, with the consent of the local school council and the communes, was instructed to found a new type of school based upon the completion of the fifth and sixth elementary classes, and offering instruction of special and vocational character, as well as a development of the courses in the basic subjects, especially arithmetic and practical geometry, drawing, and the elements of physical and applied natural Sciences. Such schools were to cover three years additional to the elementary schools, and in the case of communes reserving to themselves the management of the elementary schools, the power of further amplifying the scuole popolare was granted. 2. The entire three years' course was to take the name of scuole popolare, be recognized as an institution of public instruction in legal standing, and governed by special statute approved by royal decree on the recommendation of the minister. The teaching staff and the program of special and general courses were to be determined by the statute embodying the school. Courses in agriculture, horticulture, agricultural economics, and whatsoever other scientific pursuits were adapted to the climate and needs of the individual locality were to be fostered and taught intensively. Only those teachers that should have pursued special training courses in the subjects they were assigned to teach should be elected to the scuole popolare, and only upon the passing of examinations thereon. To be nominated as teacher of Italian, history, and civil ethics, geometry and arithmetic, the teacher must hold the diploma of the normal school or have served at least five years satisfactorily in the elementary public schools. The minimum salary of teachers in the Scuole popolare was fixed at 2,000 lire ($400) for communes having over 20,000 inhabitants and at 1,500 lire ($300) for communes having less. The weekly schedule of instruction required of each teacher was to be 24 hours. For hours exceeding this he was to receive additional compensation of 80 lire ($16) per annum for each hour, and for hours falling below he was to be required to render such assistance as the giunta of the commune should direct. 3. For admission to the scuole popolare the usual maturità examinations required for admission to the first class of the middle and complementary schools should not be valid. Only students completing in actual residence the work of the lower elementary school and passing the promotion examinaticn of the fifth elementary grade were to be admitted to them. Students completing the work of the scuole popolare were to be admitted to the first classes of the technical and complementary schools upon the examinations and conditions fixed by the ministerial regulation. The leaving certificate of the scuole popolare should be recognized as equivalent to the
leaving certificate of technical schools for admission to posts in various branches of the public service.
Rules governing the passage of certificated students from the scoule popolare to the agricultural and vocational middle schools were to be fixed by royal decree on the recommendation of the Ministers of Public Instruction and of Agriculture, Industry, and ComInerCe.
To sum up: The scuole popolare are essentially rural and scientific, of considerable freedom in courses and schedules, supported by the commune and the State jointly, largely autonomous, and in the nature of continuation schools, being, in the words of Minister Berenini, “a bridge between the elementary and the vocational and technical schools.” They are designed primarily for children hitherto unable through economic stress to continue in school. Scientific and vocational advantages, hitherto offered only in schools of higher grade and at a distance, are now brought within local reach.
An interesting phase of the scuole popolare is afforded in the tentative plans for the establishment of a marine popular school at Venice. As outlined, this school is designed to impart instruction in elementary navigation, making and managing boats, pisciculture in the various phases shown in particular localities, and devices for catching, conserving, and transporting of fish. Promising pupils will be afforded aid in proceeding on to higher technical marine schools already established.
(c) RURAL schools.
A distinct move for the establishment of rural schools of elementary grade, below the scuole popolare, but offering advantages akin to them, was launched at a meeting of the National Teachers' Union for Popular Education, held in Rome in May, 1918. The discussion was participated in by representatives of the Association for the Interests of Southern Italy, by the director and the Commission for the Peasant Schools of the Agro Romano, the school press, and many students of the needs of the rural population. Resolutions were passed calling for the recognition by the Government of the difference of the rural schools from the urban, the need of reducing studies and hours, of limiting the number of pupils under one teacher to 40, and of diminishing the number of holidays, the obligatory establishment of four grades with enforced compulsory attendance, assistance to needy children, increased salaries for teachers, attention to their physical health and comfort, and the naming of a special commission to study the conditions of the schools and children of the rural districts. Such a move marks a distinct advance in educational thought and administration, by which atten
tion was first called on Italian soil to the essential difference between the problems of the city and country schools. Closely related is the subject of agricultural instruction in the elementary schools, about which much discussion has centered within the past two years. There has been a growing feeling that aside from the lack or coordination between the subjects taught in the elementary rural schools and the environment of the rural children, there is also a very pronounced hiatus in the system between the lower agricultural schools and the elementary schools, by which many children naturally inclined to the study of applied agriculture have no opportunity or encouragement to pursue it. The clear-cut demand voiced in many quarters for the establishment of distinctive rural schools has, in a degree, taken the place of a move for the development of the elementary schools along specifically agricultural lines, being popularly regarded as a substitute for these. Yet many persons interested in education have pointed out that, while each project has its peculiar advantages, the incorporation of elementary agricultural and horticultural courses in the already existent elementary schools is more practical, reaches a larger proportion of pupils, and can be more speedily put into operation, with far less expense and difficulty of adjustment of teachers and courses than would be possible with the distinctive rural schools projected. A foreshadowing of this will be seen below in the section devoted to the training of teachers, where it is emphasized that preparation for imparting instruction in sciences adapted to local needs has been given a prominent place in the new teachers’ courses.
(d) AGRICULTURAL SCHOOLs.
By royal decree of 1907 elementary schools of agriculture were established with the aim of preparing students for intermediate and advanced institutions. They offer a three years' course in Italian, language, history, and geography, mathematics and applied geometry, surveying, drawing, calculation, elementary physical and natural sciences, and in the last year intensive training in agriculture and related industries. In 1917 there were 29 of these, only one of which was for women. They are situated in larger centers, enroll local students almost exclusively, and do not especially appeal to rural students. On the latter account, some dissatisfaction has been expressed with them, and plans have been projected to remove them from their town and urban surroundings, and transplant them to sites where experimental farms and first-hand study of concrete problems may be feasible. Such removals would also afford valuable object lessons for the native rural population, as showing the desire of the Government to become acquainted with and to remedy back
ward conditions in remote communities. It was largely out of this dissatisfaction that the demand for the establishment of rural schools and agricultural courses in the elementary rural schools grew.
The entire subject of agricultural instruction, in all its grades, has drawn unprecedented impetus from the growing conviction brought home to the nation by the war that in the economic and social reconstruction after the war agriculture must play the largest part, and, furthermore, that if education is to be nationalized, the start must be made by giving the study of agriculture the most prominent place in the schools. Thus the different phases of the discussion of agriculture in the schools are but interrelated branches of the one uniform and urgent problem.
(e) voCATIONAL schools.
The auspicious start made toward building up a complete system of vocational training by the provisions of the law secured by Minister de Nava, in 1912, has not been followed by satisfactory actual results. That law called for the establishment of one elementary vocational school based immediately upon the lower elementary schools in each commune of 10,000 or more inhabitants, excluding the larger cities. There are estimated to be 800 such communes; and as the aggregate expense, amounting to 13,000,000 lire ($2,600,000), was from the first a deterrent to the execution of the law, only a few have been established in the most progressive communes. Another article in the law provided for the establishment of vocational schools for the advanced training of young workmen from 13 to 18 years who have attended the upper elementary schools or have had practical apprentice instruction for two years in addition to the leaving certificate of the lower elementary schools. It is estimated that the number of these youths is approximately a million, and that to establish and adequately equip the necessary number of such schools at least 5,000,000 lire additional would be required. Attention has repeatedly been called by social workers to the great good such schools would do; and it is to be hoped that among the first tasks undertaken in the reconstruction of Italy's School system after the war will be the revival of the De Nava law on vocational education.
An interesting experiment in lowering the age and requirements necessary for pupils to enter essentially vocational schools has been made near Castillo, in Umbria, for boys of the invaded district between 9 and 14 years. Organized under the legal title of Colonie dei Giovine Lavoratori, and by private beneficence, the project was regarded as of such social significance that an original grant of 75,000 lire ($15,000), supplemented by subsequent ones, was made by the Minister of Arms and Munitions, and later increased by