Italians of prime working age have completed eleven years of schooling on average. Compared with 1861, when the figure was less than one year and three-quarters of the population reported themselves illiterate, Italians are incomparably better-equipped to understand their world, know their rights, plan for risks, recognize opportunities, and work productively. In international comparison, however, Italy’s educational performance has been very disappointing. The statistics reveal that Italy was very slow to overcome factors creating persistence: the enduring lag of regions without a strong tradition in education; the slow transitions from school provision to enrollment to attendance and finally to learning outcomes; the lags in successively expanding primary, secondary, and tertiary education; and the intergenerational transmission of education status within families. History’s lesson for the future is the need for change.
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