The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened the Education Office in June 2002 to promote the study of the Italian language and culture in the consular areas of Los Angeles, where it is located, and San Francisco (Northern California, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, and Washington). Education offices are in Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C. Presently, the director of the office is M.Vittoria Cifone, Ed.D.
The Education Office coordinates and supervises language and culture courses by collaborating (a) with schools interested in the teaching of Italian as part of their curricular activities and (b) with associations involved in promoting the Italian language and culture. The Education Office’s primary responsibilities are:
- supporting language and culture courses, both for children and adults, in collaboration with Italian American associations and cultural/educational institutions;
- establishing agreements with the State/County Departments of Education and with school districts aimed at implementing Italian language instruction, mostly at the elementary school level and where the Italian American community is present;
- collaborating with the professional associations of teachers of Italian to improve the teaching of the language;
- developing workshops for teachers, in collaboration with Italian and local universities
- participating in conferences on the teaching of foreign languages.
The Italian language courses are offered in public or private schools as part of their curriculum, or as after-school activities. At the end of each year, students who attend classes receive a diploma from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nonprofit local organizations collaborate with the Consulate’s Education Office for the above purpose. In Northern California, there are Panorama Italiano (for schools), Primo Programma (courses for children), and Scuola di Lingua e Cultura (courses for adults). They organize the courses with the Education Office’s supervision and with financial contributions from the Italian government.