Madeleine Johnson has a must-read interview with Roger Abravanel, author of the book Meritocracy: Four Concerte Proposals for How to Take Talent Seriously and Make Our Country a Richer and More Just Place (available in Italian):
One statistic in struck me: 68 percent of Italians think their culture is superior to others, compared with 47 percent of Americans and 32 percent of French.
It’s amazing. It my next book I contrast this with the life skills survey. Ten years ago, scientists from ETS [Educational Testing Service] and OECD decided to redefine literacy to beyond just reading. Literacy is what you need to understand, to think and elaborate documents, and problem solve – all essential for training people for jobs and citizens for life. Without life skills, the public is uneducated; people can’t perform jobs and citizens aren’t informed.
They studied five democracies: Italy, the U.S., Norway, Switzerland, Bermuda and Nuevo León, which is the poorest state of Mexico. In Italy they examined both north and south and ran tests in four categories with five levels of difficulty.
I just saw the results because of working with [Education Minister] Gelmini. It’s appalling. Eighty percent of Italians are illiterate by these standards. A literate country should be around level 3. Norway has 75 percent above level 3. The U.S. and Switzerland has 50 percent above. Italy has 20 percent and Nuevo León is at 19.
A long and winding road, you might say.