Although more than a third of the Italian territory consists of mountains, there are no policies to manage these disadvantaged areas, which show a constant rate of population decline. Rural schools can prove effective in reducing this phenomenon.
The National Institute of Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research (Indire) has recently recorded nearly 1,300 small mountain schools, attended by about 880,000 students and 74,000 teachers. A reality that represents a vital resource in these marginal territories. Small schools, besieged by cuts in public spending, are in fact an essential garrison to keep the most isolated communities alive. A school that resists is a community that is not dispersed.
Nearly 1,800 multi-age classrooms are concentrated in small schools. Here, students of different ages - and grades - gather together in the same classroom. The presence of multi-age classrooms represents an alarming signal of population loss of the internal areas of Italy. If on the one hand they are seen as an emergency solution, on the other, special programs try to transform these realities into platforms for experimentation and pedagogical innovation.
Starting from these assumptions, in 2018 I have undertaken a photographic documentation of mountain multi-age classrooms. The following portraits are children of different ages who are part of the same multi-age class.