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Education of children and adolescents

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The right to access the Italian public education system is guaranteed to all children, regardless of their nationality, their status and the status of their parents in Italy.

You can use this article to learn more on:

  • Who is eligible
  • How the Italian school system works
  • How to enroll
  • What are the costs

Who is eligible?

The Italian law states that all children and adolescents have the right and the obligation to take part in the National Education System until the age of 16.

It also applies to children whose parents are asylum-seekers or don’t have a valid permesso di soggiorno and are considered “irregular” in the country.

This means that all children aged between 6-16 years old that are in Italy must enroll and attend school regularly.

Once children are in Italy and have registered with the National Educational System they can begin schooling immediately.

Schools are not required to hold preparatory classes for foreign children, but some may have them anyway. So check with the school in your area where you’re planning to send your children.

Organization of the Italian school system

The Italian school system is organized on different levels depending on the age and the level of education. Besides public schools, there are also private schools run by private and faith-based organizations.

Here below you can find a simple overview on how the Italian school system is organized.

“Sistema integrato zero-sei anni” (“integrated system 0-6 years old” in English, that is early childhood education and care) is not mandatory. It lasts 6 years, divided into:

  • Children’s daycare services (“servizi educativi per l’infanzia” in Italian) for children aged between 3 to 36 months.
  • Pre-school (“scuola dell’infanzia” in Italian), for children aged between 3 to 6 years old.

“Primo ciclo di istruzione” (“first cycle of education” in English) is the first cycle of education compulsory for all children. It has a total duration of 8 years divided into:

  • Primary school (“scuola primaria” in Italian) lasts 5 years, for children aged between 6 to 11.
  • Lower secondary school (“scuola secondaria di primo grado” in Italian) lasts 3 years for adolescents aged between 11 and 14 years old.

“Secondo ciclo di educazione” (“second cycle of education” in English) is the second cycle of education for those who have successfully completed the first cycle. It is mandatory for all adolescents up to 16 years old.

The second cycle is divided into two types of pathways depending on the interests and the aspirations of each individual:

  • Vocational education and training (“scuola di formazione professionale'' in Italian) lasts 3 or 4 years. These schools provide the tools to enter the job market quickly, but they do not give access to universities. For example, you can study to become a mechanic, beautician, hairdresser, or restaurant professional.
  • Upper secondary school (“scuola secondaria di secondo grado” in Italian) lasts 5 years. There are different types of schools: high schools (e.g.: scientific high school, or linguistic high school), technical institutes and professional institutes, which provide students with different skills and knowledge. All secondary school diplomas allow access to university.

How to enroll

When and how to enroll children in schools depends on the education level and the age of the child.

Children aged within the compulsory education range (6-16 years) must be enrolled by their parents or guardians.

Generally, you can choose among different schools in your area, depending on the schools availability and rules. You can learn more about the different schools near you and what they offer here.

Remember that your child needs to have got all the mandatory vaccinations before attending school. Learn more about the mandatory vaccines here.

Enrollment for daycare and pre-school

Enrollment for non-mandatory public education is managed at the local level by the Municipalities, and the application deadline may vary across different cities.

In some of the main Municipalities (for example: Roma, Milano, Torino, etc.) you must apply online. However, in smaller Municipalities the online service may not be available, and you have to file a written form to the relevant institution.

You can find more information about the application for public daycares and pre-schools in your Comune by searching on Google: iscrizione scuola infanzia + [year] + [your Municipality]

Enrollment for the first year of primary, middle or high school

Generally, the procedure to register children to the first year of primary, middle or high school of public schools should be done online at a certain period of the year - generally between January and February.

You can do it through the online portal of the Minister of Education by using your SPID.

Here, you can find a video explaining the enrollment procedure.

For the 2022/2023 school year, enrollments are open from January 4, to January 28, 2022.

If you missed the deadline you should be able to enroll your children anyway. We suggest you go to the secretary (“segreteria studenti” in Italian) at the school where you want to enroll them. They should be able to help you with the enrollment process.

Enrollment for second year and above

For the years following the first, the school will automatically register the students who are already schooled with them.

The school will communicate it to the students' families through its own channels (e-mail, regular mail, etc.).

If you don’t hold a valid permesso di soggiorno

The Italian law states that all children have the right and the obligation to take part in the National Education System until the age of 16.

It also applies to children whose parents don’t hold a valid permesso di soggiorno and are considered “irregular” in the country.

The school is not required to report to the authorities if you don’t have a valid permit of stay: it is very important that you enroll your children in school without fear of being expelled or risking trouble with the law.

If you don’t hold a valid permesso di soggiorno and need to enroll your children at school, you can visit the secretary (“segreteria studenti” in Italian) at the school where you want to enroll them. They should be able to help you with the enrollment process.

If the school doesn’t allow you to enroll your children at school because you don’t have a valid permesso di soggiorno, contact the ASGI anti-discrimination service: +393515542008 – antidiscriminazione@asgi.it.

What are the costs

Public school is free for all children ages 6-16.

Public pre-schools and daycares may have monthly costs that can vary by municipality and by your family income. Check with your Municipality to know more.

In addition, there are some small fees for the fourth and fifth year of scuola secondaria di secondo grado (high-school):

  • Registration fee € 6.04
  • Attendance fee € 15.13
  • Fee to participate at the final exams € 12.09
  • Fee for the issue of the diploma € 15.13

You can learn more on fees and exemptions, here.

Got any questions? Drop us a private message.

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