Italy wants 30 percent cap on immigrants in class

Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:18am EDT
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ROME (Reuters) - Italy's center-right government wants to introduce a 30 percent cap on the number of foreigners per school class in the belief that it will help immigrant children integrate with Italians, a minister said on Tuesday.

"We are thinking of a 30 percent quota," Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini told local television.

"There have been many cases of classes almost entirely made up by immigrant students and obviously such conditions are not ideal for proper integration."

Immigrant children would learn more Italian if they mixed with more local students, the minister said.

Quotas are the latest in a string of initiatives aimed at regulating immigrants, including tougher laws against illegal immigrants, which have boosted Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in opinion polls but also provoked accusations of racism.

Gelmini has been one of his most controversial ministers, provoking school and university protests with reforms aimed at cutting teaching staff and increasing discipline.

(Writing by Stephen Brown)