Operational Programme 'Learning Environments'

Multiregional Operational Programme under the Convergence Objective, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)


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On 7 August 2007 the European Commission approved a multiregional Operational Programme for the Italian regions of Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily for the period 2007-2013.

The Programme ‘Learning Environments’ (Ambienti per l’Apprendimento) falls within the framework laid out for the Convergence Objective and has a total budget is around €495 million. Community assistance through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounting to some €248 million, which represents approximately 0.9% of the total EU investment earmarked for Italy under the Cohesion Policy 2007-2013.

1. Aim and purpose of the programme

The aim of the Programme is to improve the accessibility and attractiveness of the school environment for pupils and adults alike. In this regard, the ‘Learning Environments’ Programme complements the larger European Social Fund (ESF) Educational Programme. Both programmes seek to raise the levels of key learning skills by providing improved equipment and infrastructure, improved school buildings and better facilities for pupils, teachers and adults who use school facilities for evening classes. The school plays a particularly important role in isolated, cut off areas. Special attention will also be paid to promoting environmental sustainability.

2. Expected impact of investments

The expected impact of the Programme is a 2-point reduction in the pupil/computer ratio (from 12/1 to 10/1) and an extension of broadband coverage of schools (from 52% to 80%). By providing better infrastructure, the Operational Programme can contribute to raising basic skill standards as measured by the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scales, for example raising the number of pupils over the level-3 scale for reading and mathematics to 17%. The Programme should reduce school leaving rates in the first two years of secondary school by 75%. In terms of the environment, energy savings of 20% are expected, together with a 20% increase in separate waste collection.

3. Priorities

The Operational Programme is structured according to the following priorities:

Priority 1: Information Society and Knowledge [approximately 48% of total funding]

This priority axis aims to improve and modernise equipment and facilities in schools and to contribute, alongside the ESF programme, to improving the educational results of both pupils and adults in the key skill areas of reading, science, mathematics and languages. Although the situation is improving, computers in some areas of the Convergence regions are virtually obsolete and require replacing. The Programme will therefore fund the provision of computers to schools to build on the progress made in the previous ERDF Education Programme. All schools will be covered, from primary to secondary level, as will adult learning centres. The creation of computer networks within and between schools will also be a high priority. Technology will be adapted to take into account the specific needs of these areas to facilitate and encourage long-distance learning opportunities. Although not exclusively, the Programme will place special emphasis on providing language and science laboratories, as skills acquired in these fields will help young people as they enter the labour market.

Priority 2: Quality of the School Environment [approximately 48% of total funding]

The school environment is changing, and school buildings, many of which in Southern Italy are old and not well suited to their role, must be adapted to reflect these changes. This priority axis aims to improve the quality of school buildings in terms of environmental sustainability, safety and accessibility. In general, the aim is to turn schools into attractive places of learning, development and recreation for pupils, teachers and adults. Schools can also have a role to play in countering crime. In this regard, the Programme will establish firm links with the surrounding area. Emphasis will also be put on eco-sustainability, in particular energy savings through more technologically advanced forms of heating and lighting, and also on reduced water consumption and separate waste collection. Accessibility is an important element of the priority, therefore special emphasis will be put on making the school a welcoming environment for disadvantaged groups such as the disabled and immigrants.

Priority 3: Technical Assistance [approximately 4% of total funding]

The region will use technical assistance funding to cover implementation, monitoring, evaluation expenditure and the cost of studies. There will be a special emphasis on evaluation in the 2007-13 Programme. Information and communication expenditure will also be funded under technical assistance.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Learning Environments'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

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Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Information Society and Knowledge 118 874 359 118 874 359 237 748 718
Quality of the School Environment 118 874 359 118 874 359 237 748 718
Technical Assistance 9 906 197 9 906 197 19 812 394
Total 247 654 915 247 654 915 495 309 830