Education minister Mariastella Gelmini
According to a new policy by Italy's majority government, no more than 30 percent of the students in every elementary and middle school classroom in Italy would be foreigners. The cap will likely take effect for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Discussing the proposed policy, Education minister Mariastella Gelmini said the ceiling ‘would avoid ghetto classes made up of foreign pupils' who barely speak any Italian. If the cap is a success, it will extend to secondary schools in the following year.
Responding to officials from the centre-left and from labor unions, who have called the plan ‘racist' and argue that it would only increase exclusion. Gelmini responded, saying that ‘This move is not racism. Schools should be places of integration and our educational institutes are ready to accept children from all cultures and from all over the world.'
The Italian schools currently enroll approximately 600,000 students whose families come from over 190 different countries. Of these students, 35 percent were born in Italy.