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Italian schools “more multicultural”

Italian schools are becoming more “multi-ethnic and multicultural”, latest figures by the Italian Ministry of Education reveal.

The Italian Ministry of Education in Rome. Photo: Lalupa/Wikimedia Commons

There is still work to do to ensure that migrants are fully included in the education system

Non-Italian citizens made up about 9.4% of the total student population in the academic year 2016-17, reaching a total of 826,000 students, up 11,000 since the previous year.

“…students of migratory origin are integral part of the national student population”

“It’s a well-known reality that students of migratory origin are integral part of the national student population, making the Italian school more and more multi-ethnic and multicultural,” reads the report by the ministry.

On average 61% of the foreign students were actually born in Italy to migrant families. The rate changes in the different education levels, from 85% in kindergartens to 27% at secondary level – this figure, the report comments, is bound to rise in the future.

This is arises because children born in Italy are not automatically given Italian citizenship if their parents are foreign citizens.

Students from Romania, Albania and Morocco make up about 45% of all non-Italian citizens enrolled in schools. The other countries in the top 10 include China, Philippines, India, Moldova, Ukraine, Pakistan and Egypt.

These students are not equally distributed throughout Italy, with the Lombardy region in the north of the country hosting over a quarter of the total, while the Campania region in the south registers just 2.9%.

The number of students from a non-Italian background was low until the 1980s, picked up in the 1990s and peaked between 2001 and 2013, when over 670,000 non-Italian students entered the system.

Even though growth has slowed down since 2013, non-Italian students, the report observes, are still the only “dynamic factor” of the Italian school system, which has seen Italian student numbers decrease “steadily” by 241,000 places over the past five years.

There is still work to do to ensure that migrants are fully included in the education system. Education rates among non-Italian citizens equal those of Italian students until 16 years of age. At 17-18 years old, the schooling rate drops to 64% for non-Italian students, compared to about 81% for Italians citizens.

Migrants are also slightly underrepresented in kindergartens, which according to the report is a “missed opportunity” on the path to a more effective inclusion of migrants in schools and in society.

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