The most striking aspect of the evolution of the education system is the quantitative development of the large “aggregates” (students, teachers, school structures), especially in the two levels of secondary and university education (see table 38). The number of children enrolled in kindergarten slowly increased until it doubled in 1978-79 (1,916,674 enrolled), and then decreased in the following years, mainly due to the decrease in the birth rate; about half of this population is now in state kindergarten, which began operating in 1969-70. The workforce has now more than quadrupled compared to the approximately 25,000 units employed at the beginning of the 1950s. A similar trend marks the elementary school (which reached the maximum of 4,973. 881 enrolled in 1972-73) and middle school (with the peak of 2,938,791 enrolled in 1977-78); the decrease in enrollments in subsequent years is also due to the phenomenon of the decline in births that has affected the country since the mid-1960s. The development of the upper secondary school school population was more sensitive and steadily progressing, which went from 460,000 units in 1952-53 to approximately 2,700,000 in 1987-88. The graduates of this school are now around 500,000 units every year. The picture of this school is completed by the significant increase in school units (the result of a more widespread distribution policy of educational institutions on the national territory, especially in the technical and professional education) and the teaching staff in service (now around 250,000 units). Universities have registered a significant increase in students enrolled after the liberalization of university accesses, which took place in 1969. Despite the fact that, since the early 1980s, the number of students enrolled exceeds one million (about one third is made up of out-of-course students), the number of graduates still appears modest in relation to the needs of the country’s economic and social development; in fact, of the students who enroll at university every year, even today less than a third manage to complete their studies. The growth of universities has also been slow. As a result, the increase in the student population has come to weigh heavily on the previous structures;
The financial effort supported by the state to match the quantitative development of the school system and the needs for modernization is significant. In 1952-53, the total expenditure on education and culture (of almost 256 billion in current lire) had an incidence of 9.7% of the total state expenditure. The same expenditure on education and culture then went on increasing until 1970, when its incidence on the total expenditure was 20% (in current lire, 2745 billion). In the following years, while spending on education continued to grow in monetary terms (reaching 35,000 billion in 1986), it progressively decreased in relation to state spending, returning to values below 9%.
The government of the various components of the school world and their quantitative and qualitative evolution continued to be managed by the Ministry of Education, which took on this name after the fall of the fascist regime. The universities, which until 1989 fell within the competence of the aforementioned ministry, now belong to the ministry of universities and scientific and technological research (see below). The central administration of public education is divided internally into directorates general (8), inspectorates (2) and services (1). It has mainly tasks of direction, coordination and control. To supervise the schools of the various orders and grades, the administration makes use of a technical body of ministerial inspectors. The general advisory body is the National Board of Education (see advice: School Boards, in this Appendix). The peripheral administration is attributed to the regional school superintendencies (which are responsible, among other things, for the completion of the competitions for teaching qualification and for the inclusion in the role of teachers) and, more consistently, to the Education supervisors, which are based in each province and provide for the administration of staff and school services. The provincial school council operates at the Superintendency, with consultative, disciplinary and planning powers. The school district, introduced in Italy in 1973-74, operates as a sub-provincial district, in which the educational institutions of the various school levels are usually present, with the exception of the universities; it has competence in the planning and functioning of services, in scholastic and professional guidance, in the right to study, in permanent education. Individual schools and educational institutions have administrative autonomy and are governed by the principal or headmaster, as well as various governing bodies: the board of club or school, the teaching staff, school councils or inter-class (v. Board: school boards, in this Appendix).
He supervises universities and university education institutes, in compliance with the principles of autonomy established by art. 3 of the Constitution, the Ministry of University and Scientific and Technological Research, established with l. 9 May 1989 n. 168. The ministry draws up the development plans of the universities and the annual and multiannual programming of scientific and technological research; provides for the coordination of universities and research bodies also with regard to Italian participation in EU or international programs; allocates the appropriations foreseen in the budget. Forms of understanding and collaboration are envisaged between this ministry and that of Public Education in matters of mutual interest. The ministry of University is organized in 4 departments (one of which is specific to university education) and in 6 services with support functions to the departments. Central advisory body is the National University Council (see advice: University Councils, in this Appendix). A permanent conference of university rectors is also planned. Each university has legal personality and didactic, scientific, organizational, financial and accounting autonomy. Universities regulate their own teaching and research activities respecting the freedom of teachers; they give themselves internal regulations with their own statutes and regulations. The general university bodies are: the rector (elected from among the full professors by all the professors in service and by representatives of the researchers), the academic senate (composed of the rector and the deans of the faculty) and theboard of directors. The didactic-organizational structures of the universities are mostly made up of faculties (headed by deans), departments and institutes (headed by directors). For the collegial bodies of these didactic-organizational divisions see tip: University Councils, in this Appendix.