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Mother laments number of 'foreigners' at school

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The mother has complained that her son is the only Italian among 65 foreigners. Photo: Shutterstock
14:46 CEST+02:00
An Italian mother has insisted her outrage over the fact that her daughter is the only Italian in a school full of children with foreign backgrounds does not stem from racism but from concerns over "culture and education".

Eleonora Baccaro has written to the mayor of Padua, Massimo Bitonci, to complain that her daughter is the only Italian among 66 children at the Quadrifolgio pre-school in the city's Arcella area.

"I'm very concerned about what's happening at Quadrifoglio," she wrote in the letter published by Il Mattino di Padova.

"To me, having a school with 65 foreign children and only one Italian seems like an educational and teaching mistake. The ratio is so disproportionate, we can't even talk about integration. Unless it's integration in reverse, with Italian children being among a large group of foreigners."

Baccarco went on to write that her worries were based on educational and cultural standards and not on racism or "intolerance towards those who come from afar".

"With so many children from a different cultural background, and having a different religion to ours, how can you arrange, for example, any kind of Christmas play inspired by our Catholic faith? This is not good."

Gabriella Balbo, a teacher at the school, told The Local that most of the foreign children at the school were born in Italy and those who weren't are in the minority.

"We have always been multi-ethnic," she said.

"We do our best to welcome all children and have had to come up with strategies to maintain a good level of education and ensure all children are taken care of."

But with more pressure on teachers to respond to the varying needs, Balbo admitted that the school is in dire need of cultural and linguistic mediators.

"The challenge is mainly bureaucratic."

Other teachers at the state school, which takes children aged three to six, reportedly support the mother, with one lamenting the linguistic challenges.

Children in Italy returned to school on Monday.

Story continues below…

"On the first day of school a Chinese mother wanted, at all costs, to speak to us teachers about her son, who was in his first year," the teacher was quoted in Il Padova di Mattino as saying.

"The woman had only been in Padua for a short time and didn't speak a word of Italian. So we had to find another Chinese mother to translate."

Padua Mayor Massimo Bitonci, a Northern League (Lega Nord) senator, earlier this year said that crucifixes must be hung on the walls of all schools and offices across the city.

Note: Il Mattino di Padova reported the Italian child in the story as being the mother's son, when in fact it was her daughter.

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