Recently we shared with you some PON insight straight from our network of Italian partner agencies who work within the biggest study abroad funding program within Italian secondary education. Today, couple of weeks after the Alternanza Scuola Lavoro approved projects announcement and 1 month before our dedicated PON, INPSIEME & ITACA Focus Workshop, we continue with part two. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about PON funding, safety and deadlines!
Funding for PON projects amounts to over 3 billion euros. At first glance, this seems like a tremendous amount of money. However, in reality, each Italian public school that wins a project has a fixed budget to implement it.
If, for example, the budget for a single project is a total of 60,000 euros, this money is not only for covering the cost of the tuition abroad. It should also cover all other related expenses, such as transport, accommodation, food, cultural activities, insurance and emergency costs.
Having in mind that one PON group consists of 8-15 students plus accompanying teachers, you will spend at least 10,000 euros just to cover flights, domestic and external transfers. Not to mention the cost of a truly valuable cultural experience, such as for example a famous musical theatre or play.
Italian agencies report that some requests they receive from local public schools are plain unaffordable. That is why it is important to raise awareness of the difference between expectations and reality, and to stay abreast of existing practices and new developments. If you are an Italian agency, a local school, an international partner, or even a government representative, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you know what are the typical requests made by Italian schools?
- Are you aware of good practices for tender submission within the PON framework?
- Do you have up-to-date understanding of realities abroad, such as relevant jurisdictions and costs of living in your desired PON destination?
Protection of Minors
PON opportunities are available to selected Italian students aged 16-19, who are enrolled in their 3rd, 4th or 5th year of secondary education. According to this definition, you can have a mix of minors and adults within one and the same PON group, as in Europe everyone aged 18+ is legally an adult. If this is the case with your PON group, you have to make sure that regulations in your chosen destination country or institution allow for that kind of mix. There are institutions and regulatory bodies (such as the British Council) which do not allow minor students to share accommodation with adults. It is important to take such small details into consideration, as PON projects are mostly intended for minors. So a good PON project is not just about offering a quality opportunity; it is about being aware of the responsibility you have for these children.
Choosing hotel as an accommodation option may not be such a good idea, especially in a big city or capital. Hotels, apart from often being overly expensive, can be also dangerous for students. After all, you have no control over who you can meet in a hotel!
Host family experiences also don’t work everywhere. If you have picked a smaller destination, this type of accommodation could offer an amazing immersive experience into the local culture and language. If you have picked a metropolitan place like London, however, you may wish to think twice!
Respect for deadlines
As we’ve said before, there is a gap in communication between public and private institutions. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as such gaps exist not only when we speak about PON, but also in all other kinds of contexts.
The Italian Ministry of Education gives guidelines without communicating with foreign partners. Italian public schools submit projects without clear awareness of realities abroad. Foreign partners may not be ready for the reality of Italian bureaucracy, but also culture!
One very simple example is the concept of deadlines and their observation. Sometimes Italian public schools submit their tenders past the submission deadline. If this delay is bigger than 1-2 weeks, the local partnering agency may have difficulty handling the request due to lack of time to respond efficiently to bets.
Do you wish to learn more about the PON program and its implementation? Are you looking for ways to get involved in PON projects and find reliable local partners to receive Italian students to your school? If your answer is YES, today is your last chance to join our dedicated PON, INPSIEME & ITACA Focus Workshop, taking place on 7-8 March in Naples, Italy.
Last tables are running out fast, so go ahead and secure your place now:
Or simply send your request at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to welcoming you in Naples!