Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Students Across Italy Demand an End to Unpaid, Obligatory Internships and the Resignation of the Education Minister

High-school students took to the streets in more than 40 Italian cities on Friday in a mobilization that revives the demonstrations that broke out after the death of student Lorenzo Parelli during an unpaid “training” internship.

Giacomo Turci

February 20, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
Italian students at a protest stand behind a banner that says “Down with this school model.”
“Down with this school model.”

Tens of thousands of students marched and protested in more than 40 cities across Italy on Friday, February 18, continuing the outbreak of angry mobilizations after the January death of 18-year-old Lorenzo Parelli, who died while working for free — as so many other students find themselves forced to work. Another student, Giuseppe Lenoci, died in Fermo on Monday, February 14, under similar circumstances.

With the tragic death of Parelli, the profound injustice of the precarious free work that Italian students have been forced to do since the Renzi government’s 2015 education reform known as La buona scuola [Good School] has finally triggered a wave of indignation that goes far beyond the student body, becoming once again a topic of debate among the masses and in the mainstream media. That there was even real journalistic coverage of Friday’s demonstrations — the mainstream media cited a figure of 200,000 participants — testifies to the fact that the state has perhaps dragged its feet on this front. The billions promised for schools as part of Europe’s Recovery Plan for Italy (PNRR) clashes with the real situation of the Italian school system: the much-needed plan for ensuring the structural integrity of buildings, most of which are more or less unsafe, has never been launched; there are still too many overcrowded “chicken coop” classrooms; too few teachers are hired, and those hired are given poorly paid, precarious jobs; and measures aimed at controlling the pandemic have proved to be insufficient and contradictory, to say the least.

The central demands in the streets were for the resignation of Minister of Public Education Patrizio Bianchi, who didn’t lift a finger after Parelli’s death, and the abolition of the PCTO, the renamed work-based “learning” program (formerly “School-Work Alternation”), the unpaid “training” work imposed on all students. The PCTO is part of an entire cycle of insecurity and impoverishment for the youth, making permanent jobs with contract guarantees a “privilege” limited to a small minority of young workers who have become accustomed to years of unpaid work as a normal, ordinary stage of their working lives.

The largest, most fiery demonstrations took place in Turin, Milan, Bologna, Rome, Naples, Palermo, and Cosenza. In the Calabrian city of Cosenza, the ongoing occupation against the sexist harassment of a female student at Valentini-Majorana high school was joined by more than a thousand students in Friday’s march. Turin and Bologna saw the tensest moments between demonstrators and police, and seven cops were injured in Turin.

It should be noted that as mobilizations in Italy have abated overall, the students are finding themselves relatively isolated. For the most part, even striking school workers did not participate in Friday’s demonstration in any substantial way, nor did the working class in general. Even if the day was rather isolated from workers’ organizations, it could have been stronger had the two main national student organizations participated. That could have resulted in an even stronger mass response to the Draghi government’s “Confindustria Cure” [Confindustria is the Italian employers’ association].

This situation is even more serious given how far away Italy remains from a unity of demands and mobilization by students and teachers. That could directly involve a large segment of precarious workers and graduates who are waiting to be able to participate in the national exams to qualify for teaching. These scheduled exams have been subjected to appalling delays.

We must respond to the capitalists — who make students work for free, who make education a tool of the corporations, and who unload the costs of their crisis on the working class, with government complicity — with a united political struggle against their system, which is destroying any possibility of a decent future for the vast majority!

First published in Italian on February 18 in La Voce delle Lotte.

Translation and adaptation by Scott Cooper

Facebook Twitter Share

Giacomo Turci

Giacomo is a journalist from Rome and editor of our Italian sister site La Voce delle Lotte.


A group of protesters, in the front of whom are a line of protesters wearing red vests. In the front right corner, a white sign reds "vive la retraite," with a skeleton wearing a red hat in the middle of the sign on a black background with a text bubble on its left that reads, "oiv a bosse, c'est pas pour en crever!"

“French March”: The Right to Revolutionary Optimism

Evoking memories of '68, the students enter the fight against Macron. In our chaotic world, the future can only be built in the streets.

Eduardo Castilla

March 26, 2023

On Monday, Germany Will Experience a “Mega-Strike”

On March 27, German railway workers and public sector employees will shut down the whole country. All trains are being canceled. Airports, freeways, hospitals, and daycare centers will all be affected.

Nathaniel Flakin

March 25, 2023

France: On the Frontlines of the War Against Austerity

The French masses have raised the banner of class struggle in what is becoming the first major battle against austerity after the pandemic. Working people across the world should pay attention.

James Dennis Hoff

March 25, 2023

Despite Threats of Arrest, Refinery Workers in France Refuse to Break Strike

As energy strikes continue, France is faced with a kerosene shortage that’s creating an urgent situation at the country’s airports. With capitalist profits on the line, the government has attempted to force Normandy refinery workers back to work through an anti-strike legal weapon called requisitions. In their first victory, refinery workers forced the police to withdraw in an incredible demonstration of solidarity.

Nathan Erderof

March 24, 2023


“Lesser Evil” Biden Wants More Border Patrol Than MAGA Republicans

Over the weekend, Biden bragged about his support for even more resources than “MAGA Republicans.” to “secure the border” on Twitter. This is “lesser evilism” in action.

Molly Rosenzweig

March 28, 2023
Customers clear shelves of water Sunday at Fresh Grocer in West Philadelphia.

A Chemical Plant Just Poisoned Philadelphia’s Water: A First-Hand Account of the Crisis

A company dumped thousands of gallons of poisonous chemicals into Philadelphia’s drinking water. This is an on-the-ground account by a Philadelphia worker and socialist.

Jason Koslowski

March 27, 2023

Joe Biden Is Deporting Russians Who Escaped Putin’s Draft — Let Them All In!

The United States is deporting Russians who sought asylum following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is a heinous attack against war resisters and shows that the proxy war in Ukraine is about capitalist rivalry first and foremost.

Sam Carliner

March 26, 2023

“We Need Action Committees Everywhere”: Building the General Strike in France

Workers across France are organizing action committees to build a general strike to take down the Macron government and the Fifth Republic.

Arthur Nicola

March 24, 2023