Ghost Villages in Sardinia (1/5): Education

As a guy from the village of Ales, in central Sardinia, once said: ‘Studiate, perché avremo bisogno di tutta la vostra intelligenza’ / ‘Everyone should study, as we will soon be in need of all of your intelligence’ (Antonio Gramsci). Learning English properly is the key, not only in order to offer good tourist services, but also for personal enrichment to be able to make the most of opportunities that extend beyond the village and can reach the far corners of the world.

Starting from nursery schools, the English language must, in my view, be taught at all levels of schooling, ideally reaching a good enough level in high school to be able to study all` sciences 100% in English as opposed to Italian. This may seem to some as extreme globalisation, but on the contrary, having a solid basis in English would allow future university students to be able to choose to study in whichever university worldwide and also enable them to take part in global debates from their laptops and smartphones thanks to blogs, forums and social media platforms. Also, from a ‘Sardinian identity’ prospective, if English is the language spoken at school, the family could speak Sardinian at home without running the risk that their children would mix Sardinian and Italian which can be quite similar and which leads Sardinian pupils to make many grammar mistakes when writing in Italian.

If many more Sardinian youngsters were fluent in English, even university courses organised by the University of Cagliari or Sassari, the two universitie on the island, could be held in English, potentially by professors from other countries, thereby making the educational offer more interesting. Also, having courses taught in English would enable non-Italian speakers to be able to study in Sardinia, both as part of exchange programmes, but also for entire degree courses which in turn would be a great source of income for the universities and the entire island economy. Imagine if there were good courses in architecture taught in English, an English or American student who is used to paying over €10.000 / €20.000 for one year of tuition fees would pay a maximum of €3000 and would also have cheaper living costs. Not to mention the fact that the foreign students would love to have the chance of going to the beach when not in lectures and eating authentic pizzas and drinking Italian wine yet at the same time they would share with the locals part of their own traditions and culture which would benefit the island.

Distance learning courses could also be offered by the universities in Sardinia so that young people in the villages would not have to make a choice as to whether to study or continue their family business; they could do both. The knowledge given them through studying at university would empower them to improve and modernise their business in order for it ,not only to survive,but flourish in the modern world. This should not be too difficult to implement nowadays, as most articles and literature are available in PDF; the lectures could be streamed via video link and assignments uploaded to a student portal. The student would only need to go to the university to take exams and for certain seminars or events, but could still live and work in the inland village.

 

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The Problem of the ‘Ghost Villages’ in Sardinia

In September there will be a one week course held in a rural community in the centre of Sardinia in which there will be lectures and discussions on the ever increasing problematic of ‘desertification’ of inland remote villages. As part of the application process the organisers asked me to write about what pushed me to sign up for the course and my answer was: will to learn and contribute to the discussion to find good ideas which could be, one day, put into practice.

The problem lies in the fact that communities are getting torn apart from the high levels of unemployment, lack of opportunities and future for the fact that many young people are leaving the villages to move to bigger cities in the island or go to the mainland or in other parts of Europe or the world. If one looks at the number of people who identify themselves as Sardinian I would guess almost half of them are not living in Sardinia. There has been a massive diaspora not due to war or persecution but due to another deadly factor: hunger. This does not merely mean hunger as in food deprivation as our land is fertile and we can be self-sufficient in terms of food production it is mainly hunger for opportunities, not living on the bread line and also getting in contact with the world which is portrayed via the internet and television. This phenomena is not necessarily a bad thing but there is the need, for the sake of preserving part of our identity, to strengthen these rural communities. Question is, how?

I think what is needed is a 5 step plan:

  1. Education
  2. Transport network improvements
  3. Technological improvements
  4. Incentives for start ups and businesses to open or relocate to one of the communities
  5. Better localised social and medical services for the population, especially the elderly.

Details of this plan will be further explained in the linked numbers or articles. Click on one of the five titles to read more about the specific idea to fight desertification of rural communities. If you like share the idea or drop a comment, having a debate and exchanging ideas in the hope that some concrete action takes place in order to reduce or maybe even reverse this phenomena.

Indoona: Revolutionising Communication

Since I was born we have gone through a period of massive changes in communication from traditional telephones and fax, to mobile and email and every year everything changes.

We have now reached the stage where we don’t need fax machines as we have email attachments and we do not need phones as we have PCs or mobile phones which use internet.

Free applications such as Skype, Viber and What’s App. have revolutionised the way we communicate and the more time passes the more the number of similar apps increase and improve.

Sardinian multinational communication company Tiscali spa has created an application for phones and computers that aims to put everything in one place and the Sardinian word for this is what gave the name of the programme ‘Indoona‘.

It  is a combination of Skype, Viber, Vine, What’s App and Twitter.

How?

Indoona

  • It allows you to call/video-call all your contacts from a phone or computer to another device with the app downloaded.
  • Post micro-status updates like Twitter
  • Post videos and live-stream with your camera-phone
  • Send instant messages to all your contacts
  • Make 100 minutes of phone calls a month for FREE to land-line numbers in western-Europe and to mobiles and landlines in North America and China. Plus, cheap calls to mobile phones (except in China and in the U.S.A. where they are always free).

To Dowload Indoona for mobile phones: http://www.info.indoona.com/en/

To Dowload Indoona for Windows/Mac: http://www.info.indoona.com/download/

Short tutorial on how to use Indoona:

I am aware of the fact that one might think I was paid by Tiscali to say this, truth is I have not. The only reason I’m promoting it is because I believe it is a great app and I’m very proud of Tiscali as a company that started little and grew into a multinational. It is a true example that in an island where job opportunities are very few yet one big idea made it across the sea and is slowly conquering the world.

Finally, another great thing about Indoona is that they use Sardinian scenery as background to their advertising campaigns. Indoona Sardinian Sea