Mussolini's Education Reform

            Through education, school children were indoctrinated with Mussolini-style Fascist ideas. They were told that “Mussolini is always right.” Millions of children were recruited into the Fascist party youth organizations. In 1931, university professors were required to swear to an oath of loyalty to fascism and to teach according to its principles.

            Children were required to use notebooks with colored Fascist cartoons and quotations from Mussolini on the front and back. Some were for instruction in French; others seem concerned with penmanship or simple composition.

            Children were exposed to a series of large posters illustrating aspects of Fascist activities and distributed to public schools for placement in classrooms. Printed in color with a map of the Mediterranean coast stretching from Tunisia to Egypt, it depicts the achievements of Italian colonization.

            A pedagogical "charter" drawn up by Mussolini's minister of education, Giuseppe Bottai, is a radical reforming document that proposes to substitute for the existing bourgeois system one more responsive to the needs of students not heading for the university. The system would include nursery schools, trade and artisan schools, special training for girls, and the introduction of practical crafts, among other considerations. In 1943 Bottai broke with Mussolini and, under the name of André Bataille, ended the war fighting the Germans as a corporal in the French Foreign Legion.

            In an anthology of readings for the fifth grade, it is interesting to note that nearly every story glorifies the Fascist regime and its activities.