On Thursday 8th April 2020, the so-called School Decree 2020 has come into force, a legislative provision aimed at addressing the emergency created by the Coronavirus and the period of suspension of school activities and closure of schools ordered by the Italian Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.
The Legislative Decree has introduced various provisions relating to teachers and all the other workers employed in schools. Among others, urgent measures have been taken for the start of the next school year, related also to contracts and recruitments, rankings and national competitions.
Since this year´s recruitment and ranking processes and procedure may be halted due to the COVID-19 crisis, neither improvements of existing-working contracts nor additional recruitments may occur.
In addition, clarifications have been made on the temporary suspension of public competitions, including teachers, and school staff hiring processes.
In Europe, it is clear that school and university are not among the priorities of Phase 2, at least this appears from the EU proposals currently in the making. Ministers still discuss the closure of the current school year and the final exams, while Italy and the Government have already modified them.
In some countries, students will return to school before May 18th: for example, France ruled that a gradual return will take place as early as May 11th, classrooms will open for children also in Denmark and Norway and a similar plan is also envisaged for Spain and Germany.
ANIEF President Marcello Pacifico stated: “Schools are not industrial production sites. For us, the school year -intended as a usual face-to-face activity- can be declared officially closed. From now on, it is worth improving the techniques and capacities of “distance and remote learning methods” as much as we can, while taking care of the current contractual rules, also trying to avoid unequal treatment due to digital devices. It will also be of major relevance to try to encourage and assist pupils to improve their studying possibilities through an improved organisation of the final exams in high schools and the adoption of clear methods in accordance with Law Decree n. 22 – which aims precisely at dealing with the Coronavirus emergency within the school system”.
Until the beginning of May, travels remain limited, all non-essential production activities are banned, and schools remain closed. The workers who are at risk now are those who cannot keep a sufficient distance from other individuals or those who are still working in crowded places. Therefore, the risks remain high for the entire school sector, in particular for pupils, teachers and the staff all: the classrooms are by fact, one of the first meeting places.
ANIEF believes that the Ministry of Education should make every effort to establish clear rules on the end of the current school year, being aware that the likelihood to return to the classroom before 18th May is low. As a trade union, ANIEF has also consistently highlighted the urgent needs to proceed with new recruitments processes and to fight precarious working conditions among teachers. Its efforts are producing first effects: the Education Minister Azzolina recently stated that “to avoid that hundreds of thousands of workers physically proceed to schools to apply for jobs, we should rather accelerate the hiring processes – via useful rankings -, by digitizing the system”.
We recall that the current teachers’ rankings were established more than 20 years ago only to manage short and occasional school replacements. Today however, these rankings are used to assign tens of thousands of teachers’ annual replacements.
To solve this huge problem, many workers are hired on precarious terms, so that e.g. after 24 months of services their contracts remain atypical and on a fixed-term. ANIEF has consistently deplored that if such workers are qualified for teaching, they must be granted typical permanent contracts and roles. Hence, the currently applicable “teachers’ ranking system” must finally be recognized as a procedure for permanent recruitment too.
“We are constantly preparing and presenting new proposals to change the School Decree in this direction”, Marcello Pacifico said. “As of this upcoming September, we strongly believe that hiring processes must go this way, otherwise we will witness another record of teachers’ substitutes and precarious workers in the school world.”
Over the past months and years, ANIEF has become the mouthpiece for a very high number of precarious workers in the education sector. It has fought countless battles against wrong hiring processes and precarious contracts, on the one hand, and for safety at school, on the other hand.
ANIEF will always be on the side of the workers.