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Six Different Social Educators in the Italian Policy Context

Italy is a wonderful country, as everybody knows. Italy is also place of great biodiversity, with 57,000 animal species, 8.6% of which are considered endemic. This means that they appear exclusively in Italy. This may also be the reason why Italy is also the capital of “law diversity”. Nobody knows how many applicable laws there are in Italy; there could be as many as 250,000.

Italy’s law diversity could be the reason why the country has six different types of social educators. This means there are six different names for the professions that are involved in education in Italy. Actually, there are many more than six types of social educators in Italy, because, in addition to the national laws in the Italian institutional system, there are 21 regions / autonomous provinces which govern themselves. Thus, here we are referring only to social educators in national legislation.

Let’s list their names and the degree one must have to practice that profession:

  • Educatore professionale sociopedagogico (L. 205/2017, Art. 1, cc. 594 – 601 and DL 104/2010, Article 33bis). This type of educator works with people of every age, with disabilities or without, with children / adolescents living out of the home, and so on. To become an educatore professionale socio-pedagogico you should have a university degree in the sciences of education (pedagogy, which is a three-year degree).
  • Educatore nei servizi educative dell’infanzia (educator of childhood educational services), works only with children from birth to 3 years of age. To access this profession, you should have the same previously mentioned degree, plus some specific courses about early childhood or another degree (the one needed to teach at the primary school, along with a one-year specialization).
  • Educatore professionale socio – sanitaria (socio-health professional educator), whose original regulatory source is Dm 520/98, works mainly in the health sector (i.e. people with disabilities, addictions, and other health issues). To become an educatore professionale sociosanitario, you must have a totally different degree from the department of medicine rather than pedagogy, and you should enter a public register.
  • Educatore penitenziario (penitentiary educator), is someone whose regulatory source is the Law on the Prison System (L. 354/75). The definition of the profession, however, does not refer to a specific entry qualification, as it is defined by different sources. For instance, the integrative collective bargaining has renamed this profile “Legal-Pedagogical Officer,” and it is accessed through earning different degrees, depending on whether reference is made to a prison educator in juvenile or adult prison services.
  • An educator at boarding school. Access to this profession is defined by collective bargaining. It can be entered, in addition to earning a degree in the sciences of education, by earning some sector master’s degrees, or with a degree in primary education and some old high school degrees.
  • School educator working with students with disabilities. This is the operator of autonomy and communication assistance services at school The normative source is L. 104/92, which establishes the autonomy and communication assistance service for pupils with disabilities (which over time has become a clearly defined educational service). For this service, however, the regions and autonomous provinces  have established regulations in a very imaginative way, providing very different access titles and even qualifications that are sometimes really picturesque.

This is a very diverse picture. Maybe in the  future, the introduction of a national professional body is going to help to reunify all of these different laws and tasks, and simplify the system.

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