The affaritaliani.it interview with Lucia Azzolina, between political passion, gender issue and personal life
“I love school, but above all I love students. The memories they left me of my teaching experience are very dear to me”. Like this Lucia Azzolina, A 39-year-old member of the Five Star Movement, starts talking to affaritaliani.it about her book “Life teaches”, released last November 18 for Baldini & Castoldi. From Sicily to Piedmont, and then moving to Rome after the 2018 political elections, which saw the triumph of Five Stars movement and his entry into Parliament. In a legislature that was definitely full of twists and turns, the birth of the Conte II government saw her first become Undersecretary and then Minister of Education, a role in which it was not confirmed by the subsequent Draghi government. In these five years, also because of the pandemic, everything has really changed, but not his attention towards school. From here begins the long interview in which he expresses not predictable judgments towards his successor Patrizio Bianchi, but also of Giorgia Meloni, Matteo Salvini And Silvio Berlusconi. And, in addition to analyzing the political situation and the race to the Quirinale, for the first time he also talks about his private life, including a love that began recently.
Honorable Azzolina, the alarm raised by the Omicron variant concerns schools in particular and, as we wrote in recent days, there are those who fear that after the Christmas holidays the classes will not even reopen, passing directly to distance learning. What do you think of it?
“I have fought many battles to keep the schools open, almost by myself. Giuseppe Conte has always supported me in this, but let’s say that it was the country-system that instead believed that schools should be closed. Closing schools again would not only mean creating problems from the point of view of learning, but once again brutally intervening on the sociality of children. Already today we have very serious data regarding phenomena such as bulimia and anorexia. The deprivation of sociality has created considerable problems, especially for the older ones, including the so-called ‘hut syndrome’ (the fear of leaving a safe place, ed). We have often talked about it with Locatelli, Miozzo and various psychologists: the situation is worrying, so I don’t think that closing schools can be the solution ”.
And what could it be instead?
“For example, we could guarantee the distance measure, which since last September has only been recommended, but not mandatory. And then put back all the teachers and ATAs that last year were used to split the classes, thus reducing the number of students per class. And then you could do that tracking that I had great difficulty in making, because they weren’t following me. It is essential, but collaboration on the part of the Regions is needed. Just a few days ago I heard someone say that army intervention would be needed, but here then we are reliving the same film from last year! With the experience we have behind us, I believe that more could have been done. Last year was year-zero and we did everything from nothing: we got 40,000 more classrooms, new furniture, staff … The other problem we had last year was that of transport, but I don’t think I see great improvements. “
Precisely on affaritaliani.it we highlighted how the uncertainty between Bianchi and Draghi on the criteria to be observed for the dad (with only one positive pupil or at least three) has created confusion and angered the school leaders. Can it be said that he was a bad figure in the government?
“In my opinion, the Draghi Government is doing very well on some things, but not so well on school. Time has been lost. On the rules for the dad, we specify that it depends on the level of education. Draghi has decided that in kindergarten and primary school we go to dad with a case of positivity, while in the first grade secondary school it takes two positive ones and in the second grade one it takes three. However, surely that mess on the protocol did not help, just as the bombastic declarations of last September, when he said ‘never again dad’, as if last year had not taught anything, did not help. It was also said that for the first time in the history of the Republic all the teachers would be in the classroom immediately, but we know that it did not happen like that “.
It is quite evident that you have a critical position towards your successor in the Ministry of Education …
“I’m not the one who has to judge Minister Bianchi, families, students, school staff, the country will do it. I only say that in communication you have to be very, very cautious when it comes to school, because it is a complex and difficult system to govern already in times of peace … let alone in a pandemic! Many times I have wondered why certain statements and who had suggested them, because it was not really conceivable to say in September ‘never again dad’. It meant not understanding what had happened the previous year or deluding oneself that it was all over. It is the same mistake that Salvini made in the summer of last year, when he accused me of wanting to build a lager model school, because of the distance and the masks. Mine was simply the awareness of the presence of the virus and the risks that we would run in the autumn-winter period! And it’s not like anything has changed this year. There are vaccines that are helping a lot to reduce ICU admissions, but in my opinion the mistake related to the school was to bet everything alone on vaccines, forgetting the other preventive measures. I know school leaders who, despite the minister’s statements, continued to be a dad for one or two days a week ”.
What do you think of the EU’s criticisms of the Draghi government, regarding the decision to request a tampon also from EU citizens who enter Italy as vaccinated?
“I absolutely agree with Draghi. We Italians have made great sacrifices to get to where we are today. The decisions on restrictions, Green Pass and Super Green Pass have caused some discontent in the population, but at the moment the numbers are proving us right. Let’s think, for example, of the situation in England … Draghi is protecting our country, also in order not to frustrate all the efforts made ”.
Speaking of protection, as minister she was placed under guard for having “tried to bring meritocracy” into the school: can you explain well what happened?
“My desire to take part in competitions in schools (which, moreover, is foreseen by the Constitution) has caused me a lot, a lot of hatred. There have been many protests by trade unions and continuous furious attacks also on social networks, where the tones have risen beyond measure. I have received various videos, also made by teachers, of this nature. After a series of situations of this type, they decided to assign me an escort “.
Why was it so important to have competitions?
“Because the school must act as a social elevator and the competitions serve to guarantee social justice. Those who are financially well, even if they have a teacher in their class who does not do their job well, can easily pay for private lessons. On the other hand, those who live in more fragile families on a socio-economic level need trained professors, who must be selected through competitions. And, coincidentally, the most violent comments on this choice came from teachers. The future of the country is at stake, if we consider that schools play a central role in the education of citizens. If, on the other hand, you think he doesn’t have it, then anyone can teach at school, but then we have to tell ourselves and ask ourselves a few questions “.
Despite the presence of the escort, in Agrigento in the autumn of 2020 they even tried to kill her, ramming the car she was traveling on. Can you tell us how it happened?
“That of Agrigento was not only a disheartening episode, but a truly terrible one, because they tried to throw the car in which we were traveling off the road. Fortunately, the escort stepped on the accelerator and managed to sow them. It was a period in which there was a lot of talk about the competition, which was about to be completed, and I was even accused of attempted massacre, saying that we would put thousands of people in the sheds to do the competition. In reality we had stipulated a very strict protocol with the CTS, providing for a maximum of 10/12 people per classroom, with all the necessary checks. In fact, the competition was held in complete safety and this summer, thanks to this choice of mine, the teachers were hired “.
How come he has never talked about it before?
“Because Gabrielli (then head of the police and now undersecretary, ed) clearly told me that we shouldn’t talk about it, to avoid emulative acts”.
An attack on a political exponent on his car, even if unsuccessful, takes us back to the saddest moments in the history of the Republic, also because it happened in Sicily …
“And don’t tell me, who moreover am Sicilian …”.
It is extremely disturbing to think that such a serious event can occur as a result of decisions regarding the school. Should we therefore think that even in this sector there are unlawful interests?
“Well, let’s say there are many interests that revolve around the world of school. And I touched some keys that moved the waters a bit, let’s put it this way. But I wanted to guarantee the correctness and transparency of the Public Administration and ensure that the school had the student at the center, nothing else. It might seem obvious, but it is not and it never has been: acting in this direction has hurt a few people ”.
Beyond these episodes, she has often been criticized with a virulence that probably also has to do with her being a woman and, if I may allow myself, good-looking. This was a problem for you, right?
“Yes and I’m sorry to say, because a woman should be judged on the basis of the skills she has. Instead we are judged by the color of the lipstick, insulted because they are beautiful or even because they are ugly, as happened to various politicians. If a woman is good-looking, inevitably someone wonders how she got to the position she occupies, without looking at her resume. This does not happen to men. On the other hand, with the criticisms I received for the red lipstick, I could write an encyclopedia. Fortunately, many women support me, especially teachers, and when I go to school they often give me a scarlet lipstick, inviting me to never take it off: it is now a symbol for many of us “.
And so do you confirm that, as you wrote in your book, you will continue to wear red lipstick just as a reaction to criticism?
“Absolutely yes. I like it and I claim the freedom to be able to wear it “.
In your book you talk about these sexist attacks, also citing several newspaper articles. Yet, a few days after its release in the bookstore, the “Libero” website published an article entitled “Lucia Azzolina in Tagadà? Black tights, heels and miniskirt: look to go crazy, the study stops “. How did she feel?
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