Last updated: July 22, 2019
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“Intercultural discourse came into the
field of education since the needs to foster foreigners’ pupils’ integration”. See
Appendix 1 (Council, 2005)  


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paper outlines Culture diversity in the Italian school, it is presented into an
essay version based on books and online resources.

the great landing of Albanians immigrant since 1991, in Puglia South region,
schools in Italy are the most active participants of the event of migration.
Many of the new arrival were children. The Italian institutions including (especially
school of “obbligo”) compulsory school cycle, had to deal with new communities
and new cultures, consequentially have been facing new legislation and
amendments. Although some areas had formed their own community like the Chinese
ones in Prato district, Tuscany. At that time, migration, was still not a
phenomenon of National interest. The following years a new immigration from
Nord Africa, Morocco starts to settle down. Many of them from Africa called “The
Vu Cumpra'”1
other group of migration were coming from Serbia Croatia and Yugoslavia. Meanwhile
“Intercultural Policy Began to be
regarded as instruments to counter negative attitudes towards immigrants’
settlement and their adverse impact on immigrants living conditions, including
access to the labour market and social inclusion more generally.” (Barrero, 2015)

 Until the date of adults’ immigration, Italy
was only interested on the adult population so called “productive” immigration,
thereafter when family began to arrive with children, Italy was transformed
from a country of emigration to a country of immigration. The change then for
the Italian school was very rapid and the increase was circa 17% (figure 1) of
extra attendance with 500 units of foreigner students a year. (Ministero dell’ Istruzione, 2018) (See Appendix 2)





    Figure. 1 – 
– AA.SS. 2005/2006 – 2015/2016   

Citizen in blue, None Italian Citizen in red












Figure.2 Increase from 1984 to 2016


The reorganization of the Italian school cycles and the
legislation of the National “Framework of education” was presented to
Parliament in June 1997, after a broad debate. The definitive approval took
place in 2000 (article 10, February 2000, No. 30, Framework on the
reorganization of educational cycles). Beyond the effective application of the law,
for socio-economic development through which the European Commission supports
those who seek to enter or re-enter the labor market and helps to improve the
professional prospects of the employed.

In this perspective the law n. 30/2000 intends to give an overall response to
the many questions that society has posed to the School during the last decades
and which have not been satisfied by the restrictive past reforms In
particular, the reconstruction of the entire path of education is a concrete
response to the most serious problems that emerge from the analysis of social
reality in which the number of school failures, in terms of repetitions,
expulsions, abandonment, is certainly too much high compared to the needs of
individuals and society as a whole community including immigrants. In order to
achieve these objectives, the reform articulates the training course in three
stages: – a three-year cycle of children (3-6)( Infanzia school; – Primary cycle
) lasting 7 years (7-13) and with related state exam; – Secondary cycle
(secondary school) lasting 5 years (13-18). In this way the duration of the
obligation is raised from 8 to 10 years starting from the last year of the
nursery school (5 years) up to the third year of the secondary cycle (15
years); the four-strokes of the Italian school tradition (Kindergarten or
Childhood, Elementary, Middle and High/Elementare, Media e Superiore) are
redesigned in the form of cycles (of infancy, primary and secondary) as happens
in almost all other European countries. (Garrouste, 2018)




Diversity in Italian Classroom



In the current Italian school children and young people
from different cultural backgrounds are close to each other: what are the
results? What are the cultural processes? A precise primary research on the Italian
school would have allowed me to have a first, indication of a theoretical
“doubt”, proposed by many authors; that multicultural theorizations
discount an insistence on “cultures”, rather than on concrete people
who refer to those cultures. Citizenship
reduces the individual to citizen, who respects the laws and the needs of the
state and enjoys certain rights only if he fulfills certain duties,
contributing to the collective utility and to the general interest; but at the
same time, it affirms that political power finds its legitimate foundation only
in popular sovereignty. … (Touraine, 2000)

The most illustrious exponent of this school of thought
is Charles Taylor: he, starting from the axiom that individual identity is full
of the cultural context in which it is formed, derives from the recognition of
identity, essential to the individual self-esteem, imply the collective
recognition of the “culture” of belonging.

 Starting within the context of Human rights
article 26 2

has the right to education…and in this context that humans become cultures. As Taylor states: “Human
beings do not acquire the languages ??they need to self-define themselves. We
are introduced to these languages ??through interaction with other people who
are important to us”. (Taylor, 1994)

most of the country, education in considered one of the strongest weapon to
fight against social disparity. Culture diversity implies social behaviour and
respect of culture differences, schools are ideal place to implement the
benefit of culture diversity.

“This interaction in schools can help
children develop the habits of thinking and caring necessary for public life:
courtesy, tolerance, respect, sense of justice, and the knack for forging
public policies”. (Farhadi, 2018) 

circular (Circolare/admin document) has been going around the school to inform
how intercultural perspective has got a positive impact on language, religious
and cultural diversity. Although the intercultural education discourse is
aiming to promote and respect, to build a dialogue on ethnocentric assumption3, classrooms ,learning and
teaching its still defined as a “problem” ,Teachers have still misunderstanding
and show indifference toward non Italian student, “discriminatory

behaviours are reproduced or avoided by
keeping students apart according to what has been called separate and protected
society(Cortellesi). (Rodney & Dixson, 2015)

In the
Seventies, The Italian educational system had an inclusion policy in the
classroom. The law on equality including private and public school was stating
that student could have had the choice of any kind of school in spite of
religions cultures or gender. This inclusion principal was later cut off by the
Minister Gelmini’s reform in 2008 which have created the bridge classes for
immigrant scholars and at the same time didn’t give any precise indications or
funds for what concerns the integration policy. “When finally, Italian teachers were asked to which model of
integration they prefer, reveal a strong tendency to an assimilative model
(61%) rather than an integrative one (29%) or at least a pluralist one) (Spinthourakis
, Lalor , & Berg, 2011)

It can
be revealed then that teachers are subjected to toward the preservation of the
national identity instead of an exchange between different cultures.





The Italian way to the intercultural school is the last
document published by the Ministry of Education that deals with the problems
related to the inclusion of foreign students in our schools. What are its

document introduces for the first time the concept of intercultural education,
understood as the highest and most global form of prevention and contrast of
racism and of every form of intolerance: “Intercultural education confirms
the meaning of democracy, considering that cultural diversity it must be
thought as a positive resource for the complex processes of growth of society
and  people … Educational
interventions, even in the absence of foreign students, must tend to prevent
the formation of stereotypes towards people and cultures”. (Ministero
dell’ Istruzione, 2018)

Italian way for the intercultural school and the integration of foreign
students”, published in October
2007, was drafted by the National Observatory for the Integration of Foreign
Students and for Intercultural Education, established in December 2006 at the
Ministry of Public Education and coordinated by the then undersecretary Letizia
De Torre.

The title of the document, and the name “Observatory”,
brings together in a programmatic way, two indispensable dimensions, two
complementary gazes of intercultural meaning, which involves all students and
all the disciplines, which crosses the knowledge and styles of inter-culture
learning, it is, a set of specific measures and actions for the reception and
linguistic learning, especially of newly immigrant pupils.

The document is divided into two parts: the principles or
universalism, the common school, the centrality of the person in relation to
the other, the intercultural and the actions, 10 actions that characterize the
model of Italian intercultural integration and can support if they are
accompanied by resources, regulatory tools, political awareness. (MIUR, 2018)


Reception and insertion practices in the school;


Italian second language;


Enhancement of plurilingual;


Relationship with foreign families and orientation;


Relationships at school and extra-school time;


Interventions on discrimination and prejudices;


Intercultural perspectives in knowledge and skills;


Autonomy and networks between educational institutions, civil society and


The role of school leaders;


The role of teachers and non-school staff.


However, Final document issued on the 08/01/2010
states the main effects of

overcoming traditional teaching models and

• Foreign students would be placed in different schools to avoid extreme

in each class, with a limit of 30% of foreign students per class.

• They
would have to improve their knowledge of Italian.

• They
would have to get socially involved in school life, with the help of the

introduced subject «Citizenship and the Constitution». (MIUR, 2018)


(Equally Diverse)


The meeting between the foreign Scholar and the school space
involves the totality of the daily experience of those who “live” it:
students and teachers, primarily; which, due to the functions of the “school”
environment, they are affected in their work by the walls of external inputs
capable of influencing and determining the outcome.  In this regard, the external impact is due to
the families of the students (and therefore to their social attitudes) and to
the wider social interactions experienced by the students and teachers,
susceptible to “evaluate” in classroom: preconceived and stereotyped
“situations”, for example, they can become a decisive criterion in
relationship between student and teacher, and between students themselves. Otherwise, the school risks reproducing the real
and symbolic marginality that the families of the students in the classroom can
experience externally, thus also condemning the child or boy. Public schools
must operate strategically; and in order to do so, it must be able to perform
its function with adequate financial resources. (Bussotti, 2018)

process of mediating between cultural differences in classroom is covered by
cultural mediators or supporting teacher. In some Italian school cultural
mediators work to support the integration of the immigrants and their family
with the host country their main function is focused on giving information
about immigrants right and duties and on creating projects on intercultural
knowledge at different levels4. Unfortunately, mediators
are sometimes employed in an ineffective manner. Rather than being fully
employed thus having the time and support needed, they are hired and paid
through short term contracts or working as a substitute teacher, and thus very
seldom do they fill their correct function, which is to give worth and value to
the positive aspects of the foreign culture for the Italian students (Favaro


Social stratification is decisive towards the possibility
of children to socialize. Immigrant families often occupies the lower class,
thus creating the basic conditions for their children not to experience that
gap between social classes and institutions is vital regardless “culture”
differences the solution could be having intercultural education promoted in
every school and finally being equally diverse.









1 Vucumprà
o vu ‘cumprà is a neologism spread in Italy since the second half of the 80s of
the twentieth century to indicate, in a derogatory sense, joking and derogatory
racist, the street vendors of African origin. (

2Article 26.
(1) Everyone has the right
to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and
fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and
professional education shall be made generally available and higher education
shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be
directed to the full development of the human personality and to the
strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall
promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or
religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for
the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be
given to their children.

3 Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the
values and standards of one’s own culture. Ethnocentric individuals judge other groups
relative to their own ethnic group or culture, especially with concern
for language, behaviour, customs, and religion.











4 Today,
the importance of intercultural competence in both global and domestic contexts
is well recognized. Bennett (1986, 1993b) posited a framework for
conceptualizing dimensions of intercultural competence in his developmental
model of intercultural sensitivity (DMIS). The DMIS constitutes a progression
of worldview “orientations toward cultural difference” that comprise the
potential for increasingly more sophisticated intercultural experiences. Three
ethnocentric orientations, where one’s culture is experienced as central to
reality (Denial, Defense, Minimization), and three ethnorelative orientations,
where one’s culture is experienced in the context of other cultures
(Acceptance, Adaptation, Integration) (Hammer & Mitchell R., 2003)