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Graduating Italian high school students have fared poorly in written tests.
ROME, Italy — Dante Alighieri, author of the "Divine Comedy" and father of modern Italian, is likely turning in his grave.
Up until the 1960s, middle and high school students in Italy studied both Latin and Greek syntax and literature. Today they can hardly write (and many cases even speak) Italian properly.
Based on the results of the June graduation exams for public schools, one out of three high school seniors has a poor knowledge of grammar, limited sentence construction and vocabulary use.
Roughly 500,000 public school students took their exam — which includes a written essay. According to data from the Education Ministry, more than 8.6 percent of pupils failed the tests, three times more than did five years ago. Grades in general were lower, especially in the written essay, with an average below C.
Topics for the essay ranged from literature to history and society. The favored themes were “looking for happiness” and “the relationship between youth and music.”
Among the errors: no period at the ends of sentences, no paragraph divisions, no logical connection between phrases, and wrongly spelt verbs, incorrect adverbs and conjunctions. Nouns were often mistaken for verbs and vice versa. From a semantic point of view the essays were poor on ideas, sense and originality.
A couple of years ago a student chose the theme on courage and wrote: “This is courage,” followed by a blank page. The evaluation committee admired his gesture and gave him a B.