Teaching for Italy, attracting young talents to the teaching profession, and placing them in the most disadvantaged public schools in the country are the objectives pursued by Teach for Italy. The mission of Teach for Italy materializes as an action of change, aiming to combat educational inequalities and make a social impact. Leading the organization, founded in 2019, is Andrea Pastorelli, born in 1981, whom we interviewed.
Andrea, the reason behind the launch of Teach for Italy is closely linked to your personal story. How did your academic path and experience at the United Nations influence the decision to start this project?
My personal story is an example of social mobility due to education, which is what TFI wants to unlock in Italy on a larger scale. I’m the first person in my extended family to graduate from university. Thanks to scholarships I was able to study in London and get work experience in the US, where I worked for former US President Bill Clinton and then for the UN.
For more than 10 years I worked on promoting human rights and fighting poverty globally and focused on social justice in a number of countries. Yet I saw Italy falling behind. I was part of those millions of Italians abroad who came back home at least once a year. Every year I found a country that was getting poorer, economically but also socially and culturally.
A place where people felt unhappy, often resentful for a general lack of opportunities. I dreamt of moving back, while everyone I knew wanted to leave. So one day I started looking at the data, as I was used to do for so many other countries I had worked in. I was shocked.
The country of Galileo and Leonardo had lost more than 20 spots on math and science globally. 50% of high school students cannot understand a written text. It’s a crisis. I realized that was the central problem that continues to block the country from realizing itself. So I decided I needed to do my part.
Teach for Italy, as an affiliate of the international Teach for All network, created in the late ’80s by Wendy Kopp, currently counts 75 teaching fellows teaching in 50 What objectives have been achieved so far?
We launched the organization in the middle of the pandemic, with schools closed and the country in lockdown, but we still managed to start the first fellowship programme, with 13 fellows in 10 schools. This coming school year TFI will have 75 fellows active in 60 schools, with 35 alumni who have finished the programme, the majority of whom are still in the education system.
We are well under way in achieving our main objective: to create a movement of talented leaders who are pushing for education reform and are actively strengthening the system. We have just approved a three year scale up plan to allow the organization to recruit, select, train and place a minimum of 120 fellows per year in the school system by 2025.
If we manage to achieve this goal, by the end of this decade TFI will have brought into the Italian school system around one thousand agents of change who will push for improvements as teachers, school principals, working in the ministry of education and in policy and reform – a multi-sectoral movement for equity in education.
What projects lie ahead for you?
Over the next two years my focus will be to grow the international network of “Friends of Teach For Italy” in support of our work in Italy, as well as push TFI into the policy and advocacy space to push for educational reform. The idea started in 2020, during the pandemic, when several people contacted me to see how they could help the country get back on its feet.
Currently we have founded an organization in the US, Friends of TFI USA, built to raise awareness of educational inequity in Italy and to raise funds for our work. I would like to expand this concept to other countries and regions of the world. Secondly, I think as TFI reaches the symbolic goal of being active in 100 schools nationally, the evidence of our impact in the classroom and in the school system can be leveraged for more policy and advocacy work aimed at education reform.
We are aware that you will be stopping in Dubai. What is the purpose of your visit?
Yes, I am very excited to be coming to Dubai for the first time in November! I am coming to promote the work of Teach For Italy and to expand Friends of Teach For Italy in the region. I would like to find supporters in both individuals and companies that have an interest in Italy and in its future success, either because they are Italian themselves, or because they recognize the incredible cultural and social contribution that Italy has made to the world. I look forward to being there and I thank Kelmer for supporting the organization of this trip and for all the support it has given TFI since its launch.
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