According to an article recently published on NPR Radio, residents turning 18 in Italy are getting a special birthday present from the Italian government. In exchange for downloading an app and registering, the government is giving each teen 500-euros which equals about $563. Each teen must then spend the money on cultural events that they choose. In all, the government will spend t €290 million on the program which is only occurring until December 2016.
The teen unemployment rate in Italy is about 40 percent. The government fears that teens may become disenfranchised with finding a job and will turn to joining radical Islam. While Islam has not become a major problem in Italy, like it has in France, the government wants to encourage youth to understand the rich culture that lies within their country’s borders. The government is also concerned because many ISIS propaganda films show locations within the country.
Teens are not told how they have to spend the money. In fact, the prime minister has said that kids watching a Lady Gaga concert may become angry enough to take a stand against radical Islam. He is not sure what it will take, but he hopes that this move by the government is a step in the right direction.
The Italian government, however, has had trouble getting the word out about this program. Therefore, many teachers have taken to telling their students about it in school. Some of these teachers are then having students report back to the class on what they did with the money.
The teachers and government hopes that when teenagers attend these events, buy books or are exposed to culture in other ways, that they will want to help protect the freedom of culture in Italy. The country wants to be known as a place where culture is protected not destroyed. The government, however, has no plan to measure the results of the program.
Next year, it is the teacher’s turn. Each teacher will be given the same amount to spend at a cultural event or to buy cultural materials. Some of the teachers are already buzzing about what they will do with the money.