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School gates opened today for Italy’s children, and for 700,000 boys and girls of foreign descent. A record high that reflects demographic changes afoot, writes La Repubblica. Despite efforts to negate the reality of multiculturalism, grassroots integration is slowly underway, the daily reports. "I'm Muslim, but I like to stay for the Christian religion class", mentions one Sinhalese child. "I think it's another way to know the Italians".

Such aspirations are lost on Countess Isabella Bossi Fedrigotti over at Corriere della Sera, who believes that the growing number of foreigners “threatens” the quality of instruction. She cites the case of a school in Rome where high immigration drove Italian parents to take their children out, leaving a 97 per cent non-Italian presence. "We can't blame them,” the Countess sighs, “with so many pupils hardly able to speak Italian, teaching is slowed down. The only solution is a system of quotas", a solution mulled over by education minister Maria Stella Gelmini.