Italians removing children from racially mixed schools

Classroom aversion to immigrants may reflect tensions in politics and society in general

Milan

Italy’s racial tensions are now manifesting themselves in the country’s schools, with evidence that Italian parents are removing their children from classrooms that they consider contain too many immigrants.

In perhaps the most clear cut case so far, in the village of Corti, near the northern city of Bergamo, all seven Italian children have been withdrawn from a first-year elementary school class where they were outnumbered by non-Italian pupils. The remaining 14 children are mainly Africans (mostly Moroccans) with some Albanians and Romanians.

Marinella Ducoli Bertoni, 57, the school’s head teacher, said:  “Until July, the parents assured me that they were going to send their children to the school. Then one by one the families changed their minds. I’ve returned to school and I found that they’re all gone.”

It started with “little things, such as the fear of not being able to celebrate Christmas. It was a feeling of uncertainty that spread slowly and changed the minds even of those who’d had their other children with us for five years,” she told La Repubblica newspaper.

“I don’t think you can talk of racism,” she said. “In all these years there’s never been a problem with the holidays of different religions. The Arab families never complained if we spoke about Christmas; they understood that at school it’s a cultural thing, not a religious one.”

The area around Bergamo is a stronghold of Lega Nord, the populist, anti-immigrant party that has led the racist abuse hurled at Italy’s first black minister, Cecile Kyenge.

But schools in other parts of the country, from Milan to Palermo, have experienced similar incidents. In Rome in 2009, a mother withdrew her sons from the Carlo Pisacane elementary school because she said there were too many foreign children.

And in July this year in Reggio Emilia, a group of Italian parents wrote to the mayor complaining that over two thirds of the pupils there were non-Italian.

The previous Berlusconi government introduced guidelines in January 2010 that said the proportion of foreign students per school should not exceed 30 per cent, a level that appears to have been exceeded in some cases.

Ms Kyenge, the minister for integration, this morning called for children to remain integrated at school to avoid the creation of ghettos.

“It’s wrong to refuse to stay with foreign students,” she said. “It’s not easy to judge, but the school cannot give up its role as place for integration.

The Congolese-born minister of has enraged racists by quietly but insistently pressing ahead with her equality agenda.

She wants legislation that will automatically grant citizenship to the children of legal immigrants who are born in Italy – as already occurs in many other western countries.

But the plans have angered extremists in Lega Nord, and activists in neo-fascist parties.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible