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Italy: 'School lessons must reflect multiethnic population' says minister

last update: September 25, 15:46

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Rome, 25 Sept. (AKI) - The teaching of religion and other subjects in Italy's schools needs to be overhauled to be relevant to immigrants and their children living in the country, education minister Francesco Profumo said on Tuesday.

"There are students in our schools who come from different countries, cultures and religions," said Profumo, opening a new library in Rome.

"We need to update the religion curriculum but also the geography curriculum to reflect this."

Italy's traditional school curriculum needs reforming to make its schools "more open, more multiethnic and able to be relevant to the world," said Profumo.

On Monday, he visited a school classroom in Italy where 50 percent of its pupils were from other countries, he said.

The integration of non-Italian pupils in Italian schools has been a contentious issue in recent years as the number of immigrants has continued to rise. Around 4.6 million or 7.5 percent of the population are foreign residents in Italy according to the central statistics office Istat.

During the conservative government of Silvio Berlusconi which fell in November 2011, its junior coalition partner, the anti-immigrant Northern League party proposed allowing schools to have separate classes for immigrant children who do not speak the Italian language or fail admission tests for Italian state schools.

Immigrant leaders, Italy's centre-left opposition and Catholic leaders criticised the Northern League plan, which also wanted mainstream classrooms to contain a 'proportionate' number of Italian and immigrant pupils.

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