November 3, 2008

Education reform: second thoughts


There is a very interesting and significant development concerning the issue of recent education reform of Italian government. A prominent leader of the center-right People of Freedom party (PdL) and Lombardy region Governor, Roberto Formigoni, is keeping the party and the government at arm's length. Formigoni, who is also a former Vice-President of the European Parliament, criticized today [in Italian] the deep budget cuts (€7.8bn) over the next three years included in Mariastella Gelmini’s decree—definitively converted into law by the Senate last Wednesday—at the opening of the Academic Year 2008-2009 of Milan Polytechnic. He agreed with rector Giulio Ballio, who in his official opening speech called [in It.] for the need to distinguish inefficient universities from virtuous ones.

This is an invitation to second thoughts, not an attack against the government. The reform and the rationalization of public expenditures are necessary, but we must treat efficiency and quality of the system with care, by recognizing the goodness of those universities which have been so far virtuous and wise.

Furthermore, he said that “there should be a debate in parliament. The best way is always to develop a shared reform agenda.”

This is, of course, something very different from the approach taken by the other members of the ruling coalition, with the only exception of Roberto Calderoli, a leading member of the Northern League, who along with the Lombardy region Governor called today [in It.] for a shared reform agenda.

In my previous post I hoped the government would think again about the budget cuts. Now I hope this marks the beginning of a fundamental change of mind.



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