In the framework of the educational reform “La Buona Scuola” (the Good School) implemented by the Italian government in 2015, the so called “school-work alternance” is one of the most innovative and important aspects.

The main objective of this school-work alternance is the implementation of a specific pedagogical methodology to foster school-work transition by increasing employment opportunities and guidance for school students. In particular, it consists in compulsory work related experiences for all school students of upper secondary education and vocational education and training (VET) in Italy.

In our opinion, the implementation of the reform presents several weaknesses especially due to lack of rights when it comes to specific school-work pathways in private companies. In the framework of this new methodology, student work exploitation has been experienced by many school students all over the country.    

Unione degli Studenti (UdS) has launched a national campaign called "Diritti, non piegati" (Upright, not bent). We are very concerned because from the entry into force of the school-work alternance, the government has not implemented any form of protection for school students. We have seen thousands of school students who have been sent to pick up tomatoes in farms, to work in fast-foods or in multinational corporations, without any kind of learning outcome.

We do believe in the formative value of a work-based experience and in the potential of this pedagogical methodology, but we are also aware that these initiatives should not happen without a legal basis to guarantee that the school student rights are respected. This regulation should contain an ethical code, excluding for example all the companies linked to environment pollution, mafia and massive layoffs.

For this reasons, we decided to launch a campaign all over the country, promoting our own proposal. We are currently creating school students’ committees to foster bottom-up decision-making processes and to make sure that our voice will be heard. Moreover, we will boycott any kind of “unfair” school-work alternance experience if we do not see a learning outcome and if we realise that school student rights are not respected!

Written by Giacomo Zolezzi, UdS International Officer