There is a lack of toilet paper in Italian schools, leading to protests, petitions and outrage on social media.

The situation highlights the shortcomings of the country’s educational institutions, with one girl complaining about the old age of schools and the lack of soap in the toilets and toilet paper.

Heating is also a luxury in many schools, with radiators often turned off or broken. Students have conducted strikes during the winter to protest. In Ferrara, 277 parents filed a petition with the council. They sent it to the local school administrators with the simple objective: to improve the availability and management of toilet paper in the city’s primary schools.

The petition points out that in many schools, toilet paper is not always available in the toilets. Instead, it is delivered by school staff “often in counted sheets”, inconveniencing students. The petition’s initiators revealed that out of 12 schools sampled, 10 do not have toilet roll holders in the toilets, and half do not always have toilet rolls available.

In the schools’ bathrooms in Volpiano near Turin, there is a risk of having to make do. Toilet paper is missing; when there is some, there may be soap cutting. When there is both, there may be nothing to dry your hands on.

Some parents, after the umpteenth request to bring “toilet paper, tissues, and soap” from home, said, “But isn’t the school publicly funded? Why do we always have to contribute”? When enrolling for the school year, a ‘voluntary’ contribution is requested, which then becomes almost ‘compulsory’ as, if not paid, the family is repeatedly asked to do so

It happens everywhere, in Campobasso as well (a city in the south of Italy). For years now, families have been substituting themselves for the public system by buying everything that is needed in turn or with a class collection.

In some schools, some buy toilet paper; another one believe in soap and yet other mineral water. The private individual who pays for something that should come out of the public purse, the citizen who draws from his bank account to cover the shortcomings of a system that does not work: an exception, until recently that has now become normal. This is the condition of Italian schools. Parents and students acknowledge that teachers and directors work hard. Still, if, in such an important public building, there is a risk that certain rather essential services are missing, perhaps some questions need to be asked.