Despite the complicated situation due to Covid-19 and the widespread concerns about its management, in Italy it is time to go back to school!
Today, on September 14th, in fact, most students of all levels will return to school. And we can only wish them all a stimulating and enriching year!

We are facing a huge challenge, but the pandemic has perhaps also served to reaffirm the central role that educational services play in the territories, as many students have suffered from isolation and social exclusion.

In fact, despite the considerable efforts made by local authorities and informal groups of volunteers, social inequalities have become much more evident with the Covid-19 and the actual access to the right to education has been compromised in many cases, as also explained by the recent research conducted by ISTAT (see ISTAT annual report, published in July 2020).

The closure of schools imposed by the epidemic emergency has produced an increase in inequalities among children. Moreover, this disadvantage increases if combined with socio-economic status: more than one third of children living in southern Italy in families with a low level of education do not have access to a PC or tablet.

Moreover, the situation imposed by the restrictions has led to an even more evident difficulty in the work-life balance, especially for women. In fact, due to the situation due to Covid19, 38.3% of working mothers (42.6% in the case of mothers of children from 0 to 5 years of age) have changed the working hours plan to meet family needs, while fathers who have done the same are 11.9% and 12.6% respectively.

In addition to the strong impact that distance learning has caused from the point of view of inequalities, the educational level has necessarily been compromised. Distance teaching cannot replace an educational relationship that develops in the classroom, where students and teachers communicate with each other not only using words, books, videos or other technological tools, but especially through their gazes, their physical presence and all the elements of proxemics and relationships.

In fact, we learn from interaction with others and this is one of the central elements of the Antirumours Strategy (AR), promoted by the Intercultural Cities Programme of the Council of Europe. The AR approach aims to strengthen the level of awareness of the need to counter prejudices and rumours related to diversity that can hinder positive interaction and social cohesion and can lay the foundation for discriminatory and racist attitudes.

Questo striscione, che mostra un celebre pensiero di Antonio Gramsci, è stato affisso all’entrata di una scuola di Milano.

This is why schools and educational centers play a central role in developing a better vision of plurality and differences.
As a result of the most recent Antirumours initiatives promoted in Italy, ICEI has recently produced a new handbook.

? Download “The Antirumours at school” (in Italian).


The handbook collects the experiences implemented by ICEI within the project #IORISPETTO in 4 different cities belonging to the ICC Italian Network Cities of Dialogue (or about to join): Milan, Turin, Albano Laziale and Palermo.
Thus ICEI, as coordinator of the ICC Italian Network Cities of Dialogue, has systematized its know-how on the AR approach in the educational field.

So good luck to all Italian students and teachers!
We wish you a new school year free from rumours, because Covid-19 is not the only contagious virus we are facing.
Even stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination can be contagious too … but fortunately, for this we already have a vaccine: it is our critical thinking!

#IORISPETTO is funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and promoted by ICEI together with CIFA (Lead Partner), Amnesty International ItaliaCOREP – Social Community TheatreAMMI – Associazione Multietnica Mediatori Interculturali and the Municipalities of Turin, Milan, Albano Laziale and Palermo.
The publication of the Antirumours manual is supported by the Intercultural Cities Program (ICC) of the Council of Europe.