Cristina Pighini dell’Osservatorio contro la militarizzazione al “Raising for peace” Australia

Si è svolta sabato mattina la conferenza online Minors and missiles“, all’interno del festival internazionale del network australiano “Raising for peace“. L’Osservatorio contro la militarizzazione delle scuole e delle università è stato invitato a partecipare per portare la testimonianza di come stiamo lavorando sul territorio italiano. Erano presenti 30 persone.

La prima relazione è stata fatta da Elise Weist del “Medical Association for prevention of war“, la quale ha esposto i programmi sociali di educazione alla pace che l’associazione attua all’interno delle scuole e nel mondo dell’educazione in Australia, evidenziando soprattutto quanto siano importanti gli approcci educativi che prevengano problemi psicologici e anche sanitari, nonché una cultura della “difesa e della guerra”, che è sempre più subdolamente e spesso apertamente presente nelle scuole. 

La stessa Elise ha poi fornito indicazioni interessanti di contatti nel mondo della scuola e di attività educative, che potrebbero essere di interesse anche per l’osservatorio.

In particolare:

È poi intervenuta la nostra Cristina Pighini, che ha presentato l’Osservatorio, la sua impostazione e le sue campagne (in basso la base “visiva” dell’intervento, così come il testo esposto in inglese).

Il pubblico ha fatto domande e complimenti alle relatrici. Si tratta ora di mantenere il contatto creato e possibilmente collaborare, anche solo attraverso lo scambio di informazioni

In basso un estratto delle raccomandazioni Unesco 2023 sull’educazione alla pace, che potrebbe esserci utile.

Cristina Ronchieri, Cobas Scuola Massa-La Spezia per Osservatorio contro la militarizzazione delle scuole e delle università

I’m here today to represent the ITALIAN 0BSERVATORY AGAINST THE MILITARIZATION OF SCHOOLS. Our association was born from the strong concerns felt by a group of militant teachers within the grassroots union COBAS SCUOLA regarding worrisome international developments and the dissemination of war and defence culture by the military in the world of education, vocational training and universities. These interferences did not occur until a few years ago but are by no means a product of the current right-wing Italian government. These policies were also carried out by centre-left governments and are now undergoing a worrying acceleration, in our opinion due to the current international situation.

I would say that our organization can be described in three main points:

1) To oppose the presence of military personnel inside schools, to oppose what they proudly call the CULTURE OF DEFENSE, through which the military always present their role in the best light possible: in the citizens’ service, as holders of values such as HOMELAND DEFENSE, COURAGE, STRENGTH, SACRIFICE, all values well rooted in patriarchal cultures of which armies are one of the expressions

I’d like to give some concrete examples to better understand what military invasive presence consists of:

In Italy, since 2017 work experience is compulsory for every student in the final three years of secondary school: there are many cases in which students carry out the compulsory school/work experience in collaboration with military forces. This entails visits to military bases (including NATO bases) or barracks; there is even some official agreements between the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Education to this end (the last one with Navy)

Marines of the U.S. NATO base of Sigonella, in Sicily, regularly  invite in schools of all levels and American military personnel take the place of teachers for teaching English, physical and nutritional education, computer science, history, geography, prevention of bullying and drug use.

The Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, which manages six Training Centres in the Lazio Region, has recently entered into an agreement with a company called Leonardo Spa to launch a three-year Vocational Education and Training program (IeFP) with the aim of “preventing school dropout.” Leonardo Spa is a large state-owned co-partnership company involved in aerospace and military high-tech! Some subjects will be carried out directly by Leonardo personnel. This protocol is perfectly in line with the logic denounced by the Observatory, namely the introduction of a pervasive and consistent militaristic narrative in the areas of Education and Vocational Training. The aim is to create manpower to be immediately employed in the production of weapons, a goal disguised by the prospect of finding easy employment at the conclusion of the three-year training course.

2) Gather all those peace associations, trade unions, researchers, jurnalists, in short all different kinds of cultural sectors in the country, involved in promoting peace, but specifically interested in this topic.

Through the Centro Studi Scuola Pubblica- CESP (a training institution recognized by the Ministry of Education), run by our union, we have organized from May 2022 seminars for school personnel, in various provinces of Italy , entitled : “THE SCHOOL LABORATORY OF PEACE. MANAGING CONFLICTS, PREVENTING WAR”. Historians, researchers, pacifist associations from the Catholic world, such as Pax Christi, have collaborated with us as speakers from the beginning.

These conferences, very well attended, have allowed us to begin building a database of people and associations in tune with our contents. From here the proposal to establish a national observatory in an effort to reach different kinds of cultural sectors in the country.

3) even if its name, observatory, suggests a passive action, it  doesn’t  limit its activity in collecting information about military or defence industry presence within schools, but it offers to everybody tools and strategies to fight this intrusion.

The majority of the observatory’s members work in schools or universities and this is very important because at the moment the most efficient way to fight and contain the war culture is to act from within the school.

I’m going to give you some example of pragmatic campaigns implemented by the observatory:

A vademecum, a guidebook, has been sent to every Italian school. It’s addressed to teachers, students and parents and it gives both a general view of the problem and  specific information about what is happening in many schools and universities. We also suggest ways to organize themselves in order to be more effective in denouncing and opposing the presence of military in their school. Finally the guide offers specific legal tools that can be used within the democratic bodies governing the school.

Last month we conducted a national campaign through the press and social media against the marketing of school bags and other school material advertising the army. This campaign was successful because the toy company has withdraw these gadgets from online shops and because it helped in raising awareness in the general public.

 Also, the Observatory has recently lunched a petition concerning universities. With it we ask 12 vice chancellors to step down from Med’or board. Med’or is the cultural foundation created by Leonardo, the biggest army company in Italy. We also ask these universities to stop any kind of partnership or research program with war related business.

We have a very busy press office and a website in which you can find our daily posts and updates. It is in Italian, but it also has an international page in which we publish news from abroad.

School is a place for education and training, where no military culture is acceptable, but increasing resources are being spent on bringing citizens closer to the military, because of a growing international tide of belligerence and militarism .

They come to our schools because they want to recruit our boys and girls; since the form of war has changed, we are not facing an asymmetrical war (for which highly specialized military personnel are needed); nowadays war is coming back to the ground and there is need for large numbers, those we see dying every day in Ukraine. In Italy, a new law has been drafted proposing large concessions to those who decide to undertake even a short military career and then  stay on as reservists. This law will also include schooling, probably in the form of school credits.

We have to stand between these policies and our kids. We are teachers of peace, and defenders of our Italian Constitution. The path is long, but we cannot afford to give up. We would like to help in the reconstruction of a great peace movement in Italy, but also internationally. And this can only succeed through young people, education and culture.

 We invite you to embark on a path of non-violent/peaceful resistance and reaction and to coordinate ourselves in order to try to become more and more numerous and stronger together.