Educational Poverty in Children and Youth

More than 1.4 million minors in Italy live in absolute poverty, including another 2,2 million who live in relative poverty. In total, one-third of minors in Italy live in poverty. The economic crisis has dramatically affected the living conditions of children and young adults. Until 2005, it was the elderly who were the poorest across the board, but today, as the age of those affected decreases, the absolute poverty rate increases.

Economic poverty is closely related to educational poverty. The two are interconnected and passed down from one generation to the next. Educational poverty among children and youth is a multidimensional issue, and due to the economic, social, and family circumstances in which minors live. It is not only tied to poor economic conditions but further affects emotional well-being, the level of socializing, and the ability to relate to the world. Educational poverty is an issue that impacts the country’s future and hence, extends to the more general developmental aspects. For these reasons, we must pay close attention to educational poverty and bring children and young adults to the forefront of our actions.

Therefore, it is necessary to start with a shared initiative among educational agencies in the regions: the school and the family, the institutions and the third sector. In other words, all those who are part of the educational community, including the children and youth themselves, who, from being beneficiaries of services, become protagonists in their future.

At the end of April 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding for the management of the Fund Against Educational Poverty in Children and Youth was signed between the Foundations of banking origin represented by Acri, the Third Sector (The National Forum of Organizations in the Third Sector), and the Italian Government. The fund is intended “to support initiatives aimed at overcoming economic, social, and cultural obstacles that prevent minors from fully completing their educational processes.” In total, the Fund is worth about 700 million euros.

Its strategic policy choices are set by a special Steering Committee with equal representation of foundations, the Government, Third Sector organizations and representatives from INAPP, National Institute for the Analysis of Public Policies, and EIEF, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance.