The project was signed off on by the Calabria region and by the Egyptian ministry for higher education. The aim is to bring 350 Egyptian students aged 17-18 to school in Calabria, but one of the Italian schools can't find 180,000 euros to fund its share of the project, said Adris, from Egyptian NGO Misr El-Kheri.
''We green-lit the 120,000-euro payment from our side'', said Adris at the end of a few days' mission to Italy. ''But the Fuscaldo Technical Institute, where the project took off last year with 130 students, said they don't have the funds''.
Adris added that his NGO was even asked to pay in advance 180,000 euros due from the region. Despite assurances by regional authorities that the money is there, ''we don't find anyone capable of making a decision'' to sign off on the disbursement, Adris explained.
And while the other five technical and professional schools involved in the project do not have funding problems, there are 350 students in Egypt waiting, their bags packed, uncertain as to whether or not they will get to continue their education this year.
''It has now become a question of the credibility of the project, vis a vis the kids' parents as well'', Adris said.
Started four years ago, Pitagora Mundus is part of a wider policy of Italian-Egyptian cooperation with the dual aim of fostering legal immigration into Italy, and of preventing depopulation and school closures in some areas of Calabria. But it may have foundered on a 180,000-euro hurdle. (ANSAmed).