Almost 800,000 Italians drop out during middle school

Concerns raised about national education levels

Almost 800,000 Italians drop out during middle school

Rome, December 4 - Almost 800,000 young people have dropped out during middle school, raising concerns about the education levels in the Italian population. As many as 25% of young adults in Sicily and Sardinia did not make it to high school, according to a survey released Tuesday of Italians between 18 and 24. The report, presented by the organization Save the Children, also found that about 5% of children - approximately 314,000 - are disconnected culturally. That means that in the past year, these kids have not seen a movie, opened a book or even turned on a computer. In addition, 34% of those between 15 and 24 years say they are discouraged, losing hope of finding a job. That rate is four times higher than the European average of 7.8%. The findings come on the same day that Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called for a new "pact between generations" to help young people struggling to find career opportunities. The jobless rate among 15-to-24-year-olds in October was 36.5%, the highest since monthly records began in January 2004 and quarterly records started in the fourth quarter of 1992, Istat said last week. The national statistics agency said some 639,000 15-to-24-year-olds are looking for jobs. Earlier this year Istat said one in five Italians between the ages of 15 and 29 was Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET), according to its calculations for 2010. "A great challenge is to find the solidarity to overcome vested interests and selfishness via a pact between generations that leads to a sustainable model of development for the construction of a more just, more cohesive and more inclusive society," Napolitano said.

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