by Laura Tussi

Giochi Preziosi no longer distributes military-style backpacks in its shops. This is a victory for the campaign launched by the Observatory against the Militarisation of Schools and Universities. The Observatory hopes that Giochi Preziosi will continue this commitment in the future, demonstrating that when civil society mobilises from the grassroots, excellent results can be achieved. Many hope that Giochi Preziosi will even consider collaborating to distribute peace backpacks with educational messages from great advocates of non-violence. It would certainly be more appropriate and coherent for schoolchildren and teenagers.

Despite the profound teachings and examples handed down to us by the great masters of non-violent education, from Maria Montessori to Italian figures such as Danilo Dolci and Aldo Capitini, and global icons such as Gandhi, Mandela and M.L. King, their values seem to have been forgotten in the present day. Regrettably, these teachings are now fading into obscurity and disregard in the face of the relentless tide of militarisation, systemic violence and a socio-political climate steeped in neo-fascism, nationalism, supremacy and overt racism.

The Observatory against the Militarisation of Schools and Universities had already welcomed Giochi Preziosi’s admission that it had made a mistake in advertising military backpacks in the past. If confirmed, the news of the suspension of commercialisation of the rucksacks seems to be a good starting point for a more effective civil society awareness-raising campaign on the militarisation of schools. Militarisation takes the form of visits to military barracks, PCTOs (Paths for Transversal Skills and Orientation), the updating of old schoolwork programmes now involving the military, the Italian Military Dynamic Gymnastics held in school gyms, and many other small or significant but worrying incidents that raise concerns about the prevailing militaristic atmosphere in Italian public schools.

The Observatory Against the Militarisation of Schools and Universities is an example of social participation aimed at countering rampant ignorance and violence. Retrograde, war-mongering messages from the political and media worlds continue to call for arms to be sent to war. Meanwhile, all of us, in civil society, are seeking a solution to the conflict in Ukraine and to wars and crises around the world through negotiations, talks and dialogue for peace. These demands must indeed come from teachers, schools, universities and from the education for peace that comes from these pedagogical profiles, educational agencies and institutions.

On the cover photo, the military-style backpack