Italian pupil protests school closure with street learning

·2 min read

Her school in northern Italy is closed again due to a surge in coronavirus cases, but this time, 12-year-old Anita Iacovelli refuses to stay at home.

She comes each day with her pink metal chair and fold-up table to sit outside the shuttered building in Turin, following her classes online on a tablet computer.

Wearing a hat, gloves and mask, and under the gaze of curious passers-by, it is not the most comfortable place to work.

But for Anita, it is far better than sitting at home, as she did for weeks on end during Italy's national shutdown earlier this year.

"When they said the schools would close, I thought I couldn't take another year of distance learning," she told AFP.

"I miss everything about school -- taking face-to-face classes, looking the teachers in the eyes and not through a screen, being with my classmates."

Her friend Lisa and other students have joined her protest outside the Italo Calvino school, which began when Turin and neighbouring areas were classified a high-risk coronavirus "red" zone on November 6.

Most shops, bars and restaurants were shut and residents' movements restricted. While younger children were allowed to stay in school, older ones were forced to switch to distance learning.

Italy's education minister is among those who have expressed an interest in Anita's cause, which she advertises with a hand-written poster behind her saying: "Learning at school is our right."

"Minister (Lucia) Azzolina called me and congratulated me because she liked my protest and told me that she would do everything possible to open the schools as soon as possible," the girl said.

Her mother, meanwhile, keeps a watchful eye.

"She did not really ask... she told me 'I am going in front of the school," Christiana Perrone said.