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Italy: Urgent Measures Concerning Education, Higher Education, and Research

(Nov. 29, 2013) Italy adopted a Decree-Law in September 2013 containing emergency measures designed to bolster classroom instruction, higher education, and research activities throughout the country. (Decreto-Legge 12 settembre 2013, n. 104 [Decree-Law No. 104, September 12, 2013] (effective the same day),NORMATTIVA, as amended and updated by Legge 8 novembre 2013, n. 128 [Law No. 128, November 8, 2013] (in force on Nov. 12, 2013), NORMATTIVA.)

The overall purpose of this legislation is to meet the urgent need to effectively implement the constitutional rights of all Italians to education in an environment where merit is recognized and students are financially supported and academically stimulated. (Decreto-Legge 12 settembre 2013, Preamble.) To that effect, the legislation allocates €15 million (about US$11 million) for students enrolled in primary and secondary education institutions during the 2014 academic year (id. art. 1) and adds €100 million (about US$135.9 million) to the Integrated State Fund for the Granting of Scholarships. (Id. art. 2(1) [to view, click on 2 in left column, under “Articoli”].)

The legislation provides financial incentives for the promotion of artistic, musical, and choral skills among Italian students. (Id. art. 3 [to view, click on 3 in left column].) Also included are measures aimed at fostering the health of students, such as a ban on electronic cigarettes in closed areas of educational facilities (id. art. 4(2) [to view, click on 4 in left column]), and restrictions on the digital, television, and radio broadcasting of advertisements for electronic cigarettes aimed at students. (Id. art. 4(5-sexies)(10-quinquies).) The law charges the Ministry of Agricultural, Food, and Forestry Policies with creating a national Food Educational Program that would discourage the use of high levels of fat, trans-oils, sweeteners, nitrates, and caffeine, among other additives in food served to students. (Id. art. 4(5-bis).)

Furthermore, the legislation strongly encourages the implementation of the “Mediterranean Diet” in educational institutions at the national level. (Id. 4(5-quater).) This diet is often described as involvinghigh consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds, with olive oil as a source of healthy fats and only moderate consumption of dairy products, fish, and poultry and low consumption of red meat. (Mediterranean Diet, AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION (last visited Nov. 22, 2013).)

The law mandates that professional, technical, and secondary education institutions include classes on “general and economic geography” (Decreto-Legge 12 settembre 2013, art. 5(1) [to view, click on 5 in left column]), and announces the creation of a national competition for the performance of educational projects in the field of museums and sites of archeological, historical, and cultural interest. (Id. art. 5(2).) The law also contemplates incentives for the expansion of digital educational opportunities and “digital alphabetization” (Id. art. 6(1)(b)(2-quater) [to view, click on 6 in left column]. Finally, the legislation establishes measures aimed at fostering educational opportunities in the artistic, musical, and choral fields. (Id. art. 19 [to view, click on 19 in left column].)