16 Oct 2008

Italy proposes immigrant classes

A controversial scheme to create special classes for immigrant children has been approved by the lower house of Italy's parliament.

The measure, proposed by the right-wing Northern League Party, would require foreign children to pass a special test before being admitted into schools.

The league says the proposal will help integration, but opposition leaders have denounced it as xenophobic.

The measure still has to be approved by the Senate before it becomes law.

Under the proposal, the children of immigrants would have to sit tests on citizenship and would be placed in "bridge classes" if they failed, where they would study Italian language, law and culture until they could pass the test.

A spokesman for the Northern League said the aim was to guarantee equal opportunities for foreign students and facilitate integration.

But opposition politicians have described it as "an act of the worst xenophobia".   BBC NEWS