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"Barak Obama has stated that: “Cutting the deficit by reducing investment in innovation and education is a bit like lightening an overloaded aeroplane by removing an engine!” Well, there you have it, that’s precisely what we have done here in Italy. We have eliminated everything cultural and you don’t even want to know on what the very little remaining culture funding has been spent! A Country that doesn’t invest in itself is a truly stupid Country.
Culture: culture is the essence of what we are as a people and it is no mere coincidence that the numbers of people that are busy studying or that have a qualification, a university degree are declining, nor is it by any means coincidental that illiteracy amongst the adult population in this Country is once again reaching very high levels, as shown by international surveys. It is also no coincidence that Italy is continuing to move backwards in economic terms." Roberto Ippolito
Journalist and writer Roberto Ippolito's Passaparola
"Hello there. I sincerely hope that no one is going to reproach me if we talk about "Ignoranti” (Literally "Ignorant people") this time around.
Unfortunately the time has come for us to confess our failings and examine our collective conscience and then admit, as I have done in my book, that we have a high level of ignorance in this Country.
My name is Roberto Ippolito and before writing this book I had already written a number of others, the last one being about the battle against tax evaders and, let’s be honest, we’ve obviously been fighting a losing battle since the problem has indeed gotten worse, while another of those previous books is all about our abused Country, a reflection on the degradation of this Country’s culture as a whole, bit-by-bit and the overall abandonment of our culture here in Italy.
I organise cultural events, or rather I try to do so notwithstanding the chronic lack of resources in recent times.
It is obviously extremely difficult to understand how this could have happened in a Country that, just 5 Centuries ago, established a university that was the envy of the world and that when we became a united Country after 1861, the then Minister of Finance, Quintino Sella, cut all spending but said that: “There is one thing that must never be any cuts and that’s Schooling!”.
Well, these days we are doing precisely the opposite. We are busy cutting funding for our schools, as well as for training and for education. We are cutting the funding for adult training.
This is now a Country that has opted to rest on its laurels and no longer believes that there is any room for improvement. Now, while we do bear collective responsibility for the current state of affairs, much of the responsibility must be borne by the Country’s institutions and our representatives, as well as a major responsibility that has to be borne by this Country’s ruling class because if we consider that the members of our ruling class seldom if ever read any books, it means that this is a major problem for Italy, indeed a huge problem!
There are many, many disturbing facts and we could say that one particularly disturbing fact is that here in Italy, in 2013, more than one out of every four people, adults and children alike, believes that the Internet is of no use whatsoever! Furthermore, half of all Italians never study any further than middle-school, that we have relatively few diplomates even amongst our young people and that we have few university graduates. Italy and Romania jointly hold the unenviable distinction of having the lowest numbers of university graduates in Europe.
The paradox, although it is not really a paradox as we will see later on, is that those few university graduates are unable to find jobs, don’t earn enough to live on and are not even given due consideration!
So why do I say that it is not really a paradox you ask? Well, because knowledge is not really valued here in Italy. But what is the natural consequence of this? Very simply, from 2003 onwards, the numbers of young people that have enrolled and registered at our universities have continued to decline, a fact that has been totally ignored by the Country’s institutions and the Italian ruling class and that is perhaps the most disturbing fact of all. Our university degree courses have been majorly reformed in recent years and we now have the so-called “three plus two” degree courses, meaning a three-year Bachelors Degree followed by a two-year specialisation degree.
All the recent studies have shown that unfortunately this system, which is similar to that adopted throughout Europe, is in fact not working as expected and is not delivering the desired results. Indeed, the value and the attraction of a university degree appears to have declined and companies no longer seem to feel that the graduate is what they need.
The level of knowledge is deemed to be lower and there can be no doubt whatsoever that something needs to be done about this.
Not only did we not realise that we were going backwards, but it is almost as if we scientifically aimed at worsening the situation by hitting our public schooling system time and again and day after day. I worked out that the Berlusconi government sent home 80 teachers and 40 teaching assistants each and every day for the past three years!
Then, along came the government of professors, the Monti Government and something had to change, after all, they are all professors: not a single additional professor.
Not to mention the issue of culture because nothing happened in that regard either and we have simply stood back and watched as Pompei collapsed and the rats took over the National Library in Florence. We no longer have that leverage and the lack of culture has taken over a large part of our Parliament. Consider the fact that from the first legislature to today, the number of graduate parliamentarians has declined significantly, which is exactly the opposite of what has happened in the United States, for example. Talking about the United States, Barak Obama has stated that: “Cutting the deficit by reducing investment in innovation and education is a bit like lightening an overloaded aeroplane by removing an engine!” Well, there you have it, that’s precisely what we have done here in Italy. We have eliminated everything cultural and you don’t even want to know on what the very little remaining culture funding has been spent! A Country that doesn’t invest in itself is a truly stupid Country. Unfortunately we are currently busy proving exactly that!
Culture: culture is the essence of what we are as a people and even when we sell a pair of shoes created in Italy, overseas that pair of shoes kind of reflects our know-how, our style, our history and our art. A pair of “Made in Italy” shoes represents a combination of factors that constitute beauty and could certainly become an economic factor as well.
It is no mere coincidence that the numbers of people that are busy studying or that have a qualification, a university degree are declining, nor is it by any means coincidental that illiteracy amongst the adult population in this Country is once again reaching very high levels, as shown by international surveys. It is also no coincidence that Italy is continuing to move backwards in economic terms.
Since 1999 Italy has been bottom of the list in Europe in terms of the level of growth, however, it is also plain to see that those Regions where the levels of education are higher, such as the Marche Region for example, are far more attractive for young people so we need to wake up and realise precisely what we are losing out on.
Unfortunately we are at such a low point that it is no longer merely a question of identifying one single tool, but rather the entire Country has to rekindle that desire to get ahead, and we need to learn the lessons that history has taught us and ask ourselves what happened during those years of the economic miracle? What happened was that schooling, school attendance and the book-reading index all went up simultaneously.
We are now in a situation where the number of books sold has declined drastically over the past two years, as has the number of people who read books, and herein lies the paradox, namely that we no longer even read the books that we have lying around at home. They are free, after all, and we could easily read them, but we don’t even do that.
What we really need is a total shock. In fact, in my book entitled “Ignoranti”, the entire last chapter is dedicated to that very shock and the fact that we can indeed shock ourselves into action, but first we have to realise that we are indeed lagging behind the rest of the world, that we’re no longer at that International level of knowledge and ability. Ocse, the international organisation, has often told us that we are lagging behind and that our level of preparation is totally inadequate, which means that we are unable to compete, so we need to focus on education and on our young people by investing more of our resources in all areas, including that of adult education, something that is currently being totally overlooked.
Quite honestly, I cannot claim to have all the answers and that you should listen to what I have to say at all costs, beware however, spread the word. We are far too ignorant, spread the word. We must remedy this situation at all costs because we simply cannot afford to be this ignorant.
Posted by Beppe Grillo at 05:01 PM in Information
(1) | Comments in Italian (translated)
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