Italian academe protest against bill

There were several incidents in Rome this week involving groups of students who were protesting to the government. The protests were located in several places, namely the Italian Senate hall where the students broke into, the Colosseum which was occupied, an airport runway in Pisa, railway tracks in Palermo, and Florence and Milan where students clashed with police officers. In almost a dozen colleges, professors themselves were sleeping above the roofs in their sleeping bags in a similar show of protest. All of them are against a recent bill that legislators are currently discussing.

The education bill seeks to modify certain things in the Italian education system. If and when it is approved, the Senate will then have their own deliberations as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi enjoys holding majority of legislation under his conservative rule. The bill was drafted by Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini seeking to make changes in their education system which has remained untouched for several years. The bill, if enacted, will restructure the governing bodies of universities as well as the hiring process of university professors.

The bill also aims at modifying the process in which funds are allocated for education, instead awarding funds to universities and colleges depending on merit. Such an act will eventually result in the shutdown of institutions which are currently facing budget problems. The budget outlook for 2011 as per the Gelmini’s initiatives stands at 6.9 billion euros, which is still very much inadequate according to the protesters. Apart from the bill, the protesters are also seeking grievance to Finance Minister Giulo Tremonti’s budget cuts on several other ministries of government.