GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT ITALY: Pregnancy, Childcare, school, etc.
(Direct wording comes from Serena who lives in Italy)
Over the past few weeks I have been in contact with a woman named Serena from Italy and a girl from Canada named Amanda Ripsam. Serena is a preschool teacher in Italy and she has taught me a lot about Italy thus far. Per conversation, this is Serena's point of view and this is in her own words! (Her spelling and sentence structure is not the greatest so I had to edit this the best I can so my audience would be able to understand it!)
Here in Italy after you have a baby, if you're working and you took maternity leave, you are allowed to stay at home and still get part of your salary for the first year after the birth of your child. After the first year, you either go back to work or you lose your position. Now lets say that you decide to go back to work sooner and you cant afford a babysitter or you really don't trust a babysitter... in that case you can enroll your child to NIDO. In Nido you find children from few weeks old to 3 years old. The hours are usually from 8.00 am till 6.00pm. You can choose from a private Nido which is usually more expensive or the Nido communal which is like a public school. Over here there is a monthly fee that needs to be paid. The amount is still high if you compare it to the states.
Over here we got euro which is about 1.3 to the dollars but it changes all the time but you can pay up to about 350.00 euro per month which is about 410.00 dollars just to get your child into Nido. Most of the time people choose to keep their children at home until they are 3 years old. At that point you can enroll them into ASILO or SCUOLA MATERNA l which is a type of preschool. The duration is 3 years during which the children starts writing and starts developing skills that later on they wiil need for actual school time. They also engage in drawing activities, reading books, learning how to count. Those are pretty much are the basics for elementary schools. NIDO and ASILO are not mandatory. The hours of Asilo are usually 8.00 am till 6.00 pm but if you want you can go and pick your child up at 12.45 after lunch. The school year for nido and asilo usually starts between the first two weeks of September and it ends at the end of June.
Elementary school goes from 6 years old and it has the duration of 5 years. At the end of each year the children gets an evaluation and if it is positive they are allow to go forward otherwise they must repeat the same grade. At the end of the 5th year they have to take a lot of different written and oral tests about everything they learned. If they pass they are allowed to start the following cycle of study otherwise they have to repeat the same grade. Elementary school is mandatory here. There are usually 3 teachers per classroom. If the teachers thinks that the child has problems at home or is being abused or things like that they have the authority and the power to inform social service. Most of the time if that happens the child gets removed from the environment right away and an investigation starts. Obviously that happens when there is actual proof of a bad situation in the family.
After 5 years of elementary school or SCUOLA ELEMENTARE , the child goes to middle school or SCUOLA MEDIA for the duration of 3 years. At the end of each year the child gets an evaluation and if everything is positive he can keep going otherwise he gets to repeat the same year of school. At the end of the 3rd year the child has to pass lots of tests written and oral once again about everything he learned and if he doesn't pass he has to stay in the same grade and repeat it. If you are advance and very good you cant skip grade and graduate sooner than the others.
At the end of that the child can choose what kind of study they want to keep doing. That is the equivalent of high school. Here its called SCUOLA SUPERIORE and it can be 3 to 5 years. As far the evaluation it goes like in the scuola media. Once u complete 5 years of that you usually get a diploma and u are ready to either go to college or go to work.
Over here when you are expecting you are followed very closely by your provider. Ultrasounds and blood work are more frequent than in the states. Running a day care at your own house is not common at all. (Serena, 2012)
POVERTY IN ITALY
"Close to 2 million kids live in poverty in Europe's third-largest economy, according to a new UNICEF report. The country has the highest percentage of child poverty in all 25 European countries, a longstanding crisis that predates the nation’s current economic woes." (Nadeau, 2012)
Every morning in Italy, hundreds of children wake up hungry. What a shame! A lot of the children in Italy have never even used a computer because the schools can't afford to have them in the classrooms. With that being said, a lot of children don't even attend school in Italy! A lot of those that do attend school end up dropping out. Due to lack of childcare, children stay home with infants and take care of their siblings. After doing research on poverty in Italy I was amazed at the statistics! I just couldn't believe it! I feel that this should not be happening! Children do not deserve this!
Poverty in Ontario, Canada
(Direct wording by Amanda Ripsam who lives in Ontario Canada)
In terms of my experience living in poverty, I grew up with parents who were on welfare. My mother for her disability and my father for his laziness. They were both on welfare. I ended up supporting my self until that time I had to go on welfare my self. The program was called Ontario Works. They help people find jobs and provide you with resources so you can go to school. They also give you about $500 a month to live off of. There are no food stamps programs in Ontario Canada but they have food banks. I was lucky and didn't need the food bank but I'm sure my cousin has used it. He used to be involved with gangs and drugs and ended up on the streets. He cleaned him self up, got help, and is now on his own and in his own place with a room mate and is working at a grocery store pushing buggy's. He has to start some place. In terms of poverty there are always a gap where people can't qualify for benefits.
What I have learned about poverty in Canada:
Poverty is such a reality in Canada! So many children and families are suffering due to living in poverty. Some reasons for families living in poverty are: Death of a spouse or family member, loss of health, unable to afford housing, health insurance, food, and lack of wages from employment. The impact of poverty in Canada (And anywhere really!) is HUGE! Not only does poverty take a toll on people individually and/or socially but it affects us economically. "Poverty also has an economic cost. These costs include the impact on our health care system, loss of productivity and increased policing and judicial costs as social breakdown results in crime." (Justice, 2008) poverty affects many areas around the world and I feel like everyone can do something to play a part in helping eliminate families suffering! The smallest act of kindness can make such a HUGE difference!
Justice, C. (2008, April 29). Poverty in canada. Retrieved from http://www.cpj.ca/en/content/poverty-canada
Nadeau, B. (2012). Italy has europe’s highest percentage of children in poverty, says unicef. The Daily Beast, Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/04/italy-has-europe-s-highest-percentage-of-children-in-poverty-says-unicef.html