Write to the Mayor

Matteo Renzi
January 30, 2014

Dear Mr. Renzi,

I am currently resident in Pavia, having moved to Italy from Dublin, Ireland, seven years ago. You appear to me to be one of the few people in the upper echelons of politics who seems to have a real understanding of what is happening to this country. For this reason I feel that I can appeal to you to consider something which is close to my heart: changing the way English is taught in schools here in Italy.


I strongly believe that by improving the current English programme in Italian schools—by making it more relevant to the needs of today, by focusing on how and where students will be using English—you will give the youth of Italy a great gift: being able to communicate and compete on the world stage.


On January 5, the Irish Independent reported that 240 people per day are emigrating from Ireland, which are, without doubt, far too many. However, they have the prospect of finding work in foreign countries, due to them being English speakers. I do not want to encourage the mass exodus of Italian youth, but if they possess good English, and therefore have the possibility of finding work elsewhere, maybe it would appease some of the unemployment-related desperation which the current economic crisis has created.


I would be most grateful if you could give consideration to this issue.


Kate O’Donohoe



Dear Kate,

I read your letter with interest and share your concerns.


I should start by saying that the organization of schools in Italy is rather complicated, with their administration being distributed among the various levels of government: regional, provincial and municipal. School principals also have a good deal of autonomy, and most pedagogical content is organized by the central government. 


Still, I would like to say a few words on the teaching of English in our schools in Florence.  I agree with your call for better English for Italian school children and, because we realize how important it is for the future of all our citizens, this administration has instituted the teaching of English in all the kindergartens run by the city (30% of the total). 


At the national level, I have made a proposal for an overall reform of schools that would involve teachers, from the very beginning, in a discussion of what types of reforms are most needed. I feel strongly that those who govern must begin by listening to those who work on a daily basis with children in the schools, in order to set forth a program of reform that will be of the greatest benefit to our society. 


Thank you and best wishes,




Those interested in writing to the mayor can send messages and comments via email to redazione@theflorentine.net, stating 'Write to the Mayor' in the subject line of the email. Emails must clearly state the author's first name, surname, city and country of birth, and the city and country of residence. 

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