Newspapers in the classroom, work is underway on the new single tender: all the news for reimbursements of up to 90%


By John

Quality information at school, through professional newspapers which can validly, while respecting the truth of the facts and the dignity of people, contribute to improving knowledge and skills in educational environments, for students, but not only, in a common strategy to combat misinformation and enhance opportunities for young people's involvement and participation, through an in-depth study of current issues.

This is the objective aimed at by the measures desired by the Government to support the purchase by schools of newspapers, newspapers, periodicals and scientific and sector magazines, in paper or digital format, as specified by the legislation. By the summer, the measures will be launched which implement the important reform desired by the Undersecretary for Information and Publishing Alberto Barachini, and announced in Messina, during the inauguration of the GDS Academy of Società Editrice Sud Gazzetta del Sud Giornale di Sicilia held in November last year with the presence of schools and universities from Sicily and Calabria. The reform was then implemented in the 2024 budget law.

The handbook with all the legislative news: how to access contributions for the 2024/2025 school year after the reorganization of the subject carried out with the 2024 Budget Law (Art. 1, paragraph 320).

Compared to the previous legislation, the purchase of season tickets is linked to the school year and no longer to the calendar year; this will allow a wider time window for purchasing season tickets.

Below are the simplified operations that schools must carry out to access the contribution provided by the Department for Information and Publishing of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

Schools of all levels, state and private, can subscribe, for the 2024/2025 school year, to subscriptions to newspapers, periodicals, scientific and sector magazines recognized as useful for teaching purposes by the Teaching Body, which is the body of the school responsible for defining the organization of teaching activities. It is chaired by the school director and made up of teachers in service. It meets as needed, at least once a quarter or quarter. It is important that teachers have the expense for the purchase of season tickets approved by the first available Teachers' College (for example the first of the new school year). Only after the expenditure has been approved can the school proceed with the purchase of season tickets.

Between the beginning of next autumn and the end of winter, each school will be able to send, via the specific platform of the Ministry of Education and Merit, which will have to be adapted for the submission of new applications, a pre-compiled application with the details of the expenses incurred and subscriptions subscribed. The exact period with the methods for sending applications will be defined in the notice to be released by the summer, considering that the new regulation starts with the 2024/2025 school year and, therefore, in September 2024. Prodromal to the notice is the draft Decree signed by Barachini-Valditara which will also be issued by the summer. From this year, it is a single and unique call for all contributions, with a view to the simplification introduced by the 2024 Budget Law. In the spring of 2025, once the deadlines for sending applications have closed, the Department for The information and publishing sector will proceed with the investigation and then with the publication of the contributions granted to schools, equal to 90% of the expenditure incurred.

Legislative innovations in detail

With paragraph 320 of article 1 of the 2024 Budget Law, the two contributions provided for by article 1, paragraphs 389 and 390, of law 27 December 2019, n. 160, in favor of educational institutions and students for the purchase of subscriptions to newspapers, periodicals and scientific and sector magazines. In particular, paragraphs 389 and 390 have seen the issuing of annual notices from 2020 to date by the Department for Information and Publishing, through which to reimburse up to 90% of the costs incurred by state and private schools, for the purchase of subscriptions and, more generally, editorial products useful for teaching. The deadline for submitting applications for tenders for expenses incurred in 2023 closed on 16 January. The next tender for 2024, therefore, will be regulated by the new rule.

A single call for all schools for the 24-25 school year

Before the 2024 budget law, article 1, paragraph 389, of law no. 160/2019 was intended for schools of all levels of education and provided for the purchase of subscriptions to sector magazines and periodicals; article 1, paragraph 390, of the same law was reserved for lower secondary schools and also provided for the purchase of newspaper subscriptions; only comprehensive schools could apply for both contributions. With the provision included in the 2024 Budget Law, secondary schools are also allowed to request the contribution for the purchase of newspaper subscriptions (so far excluded) and the administrative procedures for schools for managing purchases are simplified , in order to make access to the measure easier and, therefore, the destination of these resources more effective. The annual notice for the assignment of this contribution will be issued by decree of the Head of the Department for Information and Publishing of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Therefore no longer two notices, but a single notice linked to the school year for all schools and for all planned editorial products (newspapers, periodicals and scientific magazines, in paper or digital format).

In particular, the amendment provides for the possibility for state and private institutions of all levels of education to purchase subscriptions to editorial products without specific indications regarding the adoption of reading education programs (prior to the 2024 Budget Law, paragraph 390 of law 27 December 2019, n. 160 provided that to access the contribution, lower secondary schools must guarantee to adopt “… programs for the promotion of critical reading and education in information content as part of the Plans for training offer…”).

The change was necessary because, after the first three years of application of the measure (2020/2022), it was found that access to the purchase of newspapers was reserved only for lower secondary schools and the obligation to adopt specific critical reading programs to be included in the three-year plans for training provision (PTOF), significantly reduced the effectiveness of the measure. The schools, in fact, despite having expressed interest in purchasing editorial products, having to activate additional administrative procedures, however burdensome, and coordinate the various school bodies, have often given up on requesting the contribution. Therefore, schools will certainly be able to activate critical reading programs – and this is highly desirable to accompany the arrival of the newspaper in the classroom in the best possible way – but this is no longer a necessary requirement for access to the contributions, which will therefore be paid in more broadly, rewarding interest in quality information and facilitating the availability of the tools necessary to access it.