MUSIC is set to make a comeback in the classroom in time for the Verdi centenary celebrations this year.
Amid sweeping changes proposed for the curriculum in September, music is to become a compulsory subject at primary level, with children learning to play an instrument from the age of ten.
Guiseppe Verdi, who composed operas including Aida and La Traviata, died in 1901. He more than any other composer represents the spirit of Italian national unity and would have approved of the changes Up to now, musical education in the early years has been at the discretion of teachers - and most have felt unqualified to teach it. This contrasts with the specialist secondary education provided by the scores of conservatories which each year churn out large numbers of performing musicians, splitting students into two categories: the uneducated masses and an unemployable elite.
Other subjects to be upgraded in the 140-page proposal for the new scuola di base, in which the old scuola elementare and scuola media (rimary and lower secondary) join forces, are maths and modern languages.
Maths is to be given equal status with Italian, and a less theoretical approach is to be encouraged.
All children will learn two foreign languages. The first of these will be taught from age six, and the second (English, French, German or Spanish) will start at age 11.
Afterwards, pupils should be able to obtain an internationally recognised qualification in the language. The proposal also recommends exposure to English at nursery school (attended by 97 per cent of children).
Other changes include a more cross-curricular approach to history, geography and social studies, and a vertically integrated history syllabus. At present, pupils make three fresh stabs at the Romans as they move up from one school to the next, but they rarely reach the 20th century.
The document, compiled by 250 experts, is now being circulated in schools which have been given only three weeks - until the end of this month - to give their views.