‘Informatics has to become a school subject’: the call to Italian politicians

Introduced in the Italian Chamber of Deputies by Enrico Nardelli (Informatics Europe), in the presence of deputies Antonio Palmieri (Fi), Flavia Piccoli Nardelli (Pd) and Paolo Lattanzio (M5S), the ‘Declaration of Rome’ to promote the introduction in schools of informatics education as a scientific subject.

An appeal to institutions to include Informatics (known as “computer science” or “computing” in other parts of the world) among schools mandatory subjects so that our children learn from childhood the scientific concepts informing the digital society in which we are increasingly immersed. This is the aim of the “Rome Declaration”, introduced in the Chamber of Deputies during the press conference on “The social role of information technology”, promoted by Enrico Nardelli, president of Informatics Europe, the European association of university departments and research centers in Informatics, in the presence of deputies Antonio Palmieri, of Forza Italia; Flavia Piccoli Nardelli, of the Democratic Party; and Paolo Lattanzio, of the 5 Star Movement.

On this occasion Professor Nardelli introduced three initiatives:

The “Social Responsibility of Informatics“, main theme of the annual conference of Informatics Europe, ECSS 2019, which brings together the leading national and European computer scientists;

The “Manifesto for Digital Humanism“, a call to refocus digital technologies on the good of human beings;

The “Rome Declaration“, the appeal to all national and international institutions to support the call for Informatics to be a foundational subject in schools across Europe.

Nardelli (Informatics Europe) ‘Informatica has a huge social impact’

“Informatics has a huge impact on society – said Professor Enrico Nardelli – and the European association I chair, Informatics Europe, aims to push forward awareness at all levels on this issue”. The digital world is just as real as the physical world, but we are not born prepared for it. “Therefore we must bring Informatics education to all schools, teachers must be educated to teach it, we must invest and carry out research at European level on teaching methods and contents – adds Nardelli – and as scientists we must be strongly aware of the problem of the impact on our lives of digital technologies that we help to create”, taking into account risks linked, for example, to the fact that our data is sold on the net as a commodity and this “has to concern us seriously”. Informatics is already a mandatory school subject not only in the United Kingdom (from 2014) but also in the USA, China and Japan. The EU must quickly catch up so as not to lose the boat of digital progress.

To bring to the forefront of discussions the impact of Informatics and technology on our society the ECSS 2019 conference on the Social Responsibility of Informatics, held in Rom from October 28 to 30, joins together high-level international experts, to discuss the importance of bringing the human dimension back in focus of technological development, which in last years has increasingly pervaded our lives. This was also the focus of the “Manifesto for Digital Humanism“, signed in Vienna in May, an appeal to act all together in the direction of blocking the excessive power of algorithms and recovering human control on important decisions affecting human beings.

Palmieri (FI) ‘Separation between real and virtual no longer makes sense’

“The distinction between real and virtual no longer makes sense in the digital age – said Antonio Palmieri, a deputy of Forza Italia and a historic member of the Innovation Intergroup – but unfortunately it is still held true and thus prevents an effective action to promote a true digital culture “. Having said this, Palmieri guaranteed his commitment to spread the “Rome Declaration” in the Italian Parliament, and to increase digital awareness among its members, bringing the declaration to the attention of the Deputy Chamber Chairman Roberto Fico but also, and above all, of the Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti.

Lattanzio (M5S) ‘Involving Minister Fioramonti’

A commitment to get the attention of Minister Fioramonti also comes from Paolo Lattanzio, a member of the M5S, according to whom “Minister Fioramonti will certainly take into account the issue, given his sensitivity to a new vision of the school that looks at the strong societal impact of informatics”, said Lattanzio, stressing the importance of the impact of digital technologies on our lives starting from the example of self-driving cars, which will soon be on our roads. Informatics at school, in other words, cannot be reduced to the use of digital blackboards or tablets that in the classroom should only be considered as prerequisites.

Piccoli Nardelli (Pd) ‘The digital theme requires rigour and seriousness’

A commitment to involving the MIUR in the challenge to add Informatics as a scientific subject in schools was also collected by PD deputy Flavia Piccoli Nardelli: “Digital is a theme that is debated a lot in the Culture Commission – Piccoli Nardelli said – we are trying to raise awareness of the public opinion on this fundamental and increasingly pervasive topic, given that from the evaluation produced by an algorithm – which is nothing else but a form of Artificial Intelligence – may even depend the go-ahead for funding a theater, to stay on the subject of culture. “The theme demands rigour, seriousness is needed,” added Piccoli Nardelli, bringing the greetings and the attention of Anna Ascani, deputy minister of MIUR, who has been following the theme of digital at school for a long time.

Informatics Europe represents the academic and research community in Informatics in Europe. Bringing together university departments and research laboratories, it creates a strong common voice to safeguard and shape quality research and education in Informatics in Europe. With the support of its member institutions across 31 countries, Informatics Europe promotes common positions and acts on common priorities.

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