The sociologist Domenico De Masi, an expert in businesses and organizations, is promoting the protests of Italian young people for the right to study. He’s identified a few simple changes to revive not only education, but the whole country: “We have to remove the university quotas and build more classrooms; you just need a prefab structure, like those given to earthquake victims. The important thing is to have a laptop and a projector. Before any other reform, you have to break down ignorance. Italy is now blocked because since the ‘80s, we have not invested in schools and research.”
What happened? What prevented us from growing?
In the ‘80s, some areas of the world understood that their future would depend on knowledge and innovation; thus, they have begun to rely entirely on education. Today, 40 years later, we find that not only countries, but also often individual cities or regions have high wages, low crime, a high percentage of turnout in elections and quality of life, combined with strong doses of cultural activities. On the other side, right next to these realities, maybe an hour’s drive away, there are those that have not invested in education. And to this day, they suffer high crime rates, low attendance at the ballot box, inadequate salaries and few and poor cultural activities, amid many divorces.
There is a very interesting study by Enrico Moretti, an economist at Berkeley, who analyzed precisely the relationship between different districts of the United States. Boston, San Diego and Santa Barbara are much more advanced than other neighboring cities. And similarly, on another scale, while Seoul, Bangalore and San Francisco tripled their educational infrastructure, universities and research laboratories, we in Italy have virtually destroyed them.