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Minister scraps remedial classes

ITALY. Institutionalised remedial lessons for pupils falling behind have proved a failure and are to be abolished, says education minister Luigi Berlinguer.

The remedial classes were introduced two years ago to put an end to September resits, the annual ritual for low achievers over the previous school year. Pupils who failed the exam would have to repeat the whole year.

The threat of the September exam was guaranteed to ruin the summer holidays of one in four families, and so its removal by the then minister Francesco D'Onofrio was greeted with a chorus of assent. But chaos took over as schools tried to provide short remedial courses in its place.

Initial attempts to organise the courses before the beginning or at the end of the school year were unpopular with teachers as well as pupils, and in the end many schools chose to have them during the school year, leading to enforced holidays for pupils and staff not involved in the courses.

Luigi Berlinguer said he decided to suspend the courses when he realised that they were generating "endless paperwork". But there will be no return to the September exams. Thanks to the recently approved law on decentralisation, schools will be able to decide for themselves how best to integrate underachievers.

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