Training off to bad start

12th May 2000 at 01:00

ITALY'S new teacher-training schools are being undermined by uncertainty over teacher recruitment and money.

With decisions yet to be taken about how many staff will be recruited from the new schools, and how many from existing ranks of supply teachers, thousands of students have dropped out. They are unwilling to pay fees of around 5 million lire (pound;1,600) for a qualification which may not guarantee them a job.

Until this year, initial training was non-existent. Teachers learned on the job, either as supply teachers or after passing competitive exams which gave them a tenured post but no guarantee of their suitability.

The new institutions, known as schools for specialisation of secondary teachers, have been set up jointly by the regional ministries for education and the universities.

Would-be primary teachers will follow a different path, doing a first degree in education. Currently most primar staff are not graduates.

The training schools have been undermined by doubts as to whether would-be teachers have to have their diploma.

Of the 12,000 or so students who have enrolled, a large number are relying on part-time jobs, including supply work, to finance the two-year courses. Training schools have adapted by organising lessons in the afternoons or offering online courses.

Without any premises to call their own, the primary training institutions are having to make do with university rooms normally used for other purposes or they rent rooms from schools, which do not come cheap. Since the only source of income is the fees they raise, it may be a long time before they establish a separate identity.

Trainees on the two-year, 1,000-hour courses will spend 30 per cent of their time on teaching practice, though teacher-trainers have struggled to find schools willing to accept their students.

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