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Italy/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.5 Language issues and policies

Legislation relating to minority languages issues is described in chapter 5.1.9.

One of the most important public cultural institutions supporting minority languages is the Slovenian Theatre in Trieste (Slovensko Stalno Gledalishe), created by the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, and presently one of the 15 "teatri stabili", the category of drama theatres most subsidised by the Italian state.

In sharp contrast with the safeguard enjoyed by historic linguistic minorities, it must be noted thatnone of the main languages spoken by over 5 millionforeigners presently living in Italy (see  chapter 4.2.4) have so far been officially recognised or taught in schools, consequently raising the serious problem of maintaining the cultural identity of migrant communities for the sake of future generations. In Rome, the Chinese community has long been asking in vain for the establishment of a Chinese school. In the past few years, there was repeated turmoil in Milan about whether to officially recognise an Islamic school using the Arab language; recognition was denied for ideological rather than linguistic reasons and the school temporarily closed down, but finally re-opened.

However, sporadic initiatives for the teaching of migrant communities' native languages have recently been taken by some regional, provincial and local administrations.

As far as the media are concerned, the new minority languages have no access to national TV and radio networks, although there are private local radio stations broadcasting in the respective languages. On the other hand, minority languages are broadly catered for by the press. In 2007 the NGO Cospe surveyed as many as 146 immigrant newspapers / programmes "in foreign languages", mostly created in the last 5 years and run by NGOs and volunteers: 63 newspapers / magazines (for the most part monthly), 59 radio programmes, 24 TV programmes (for the most part weekly). According to Cospe, these media employ around 800 people overall (550 of whom have an immigrant background). A growing need is felt to reform the professional law, according to which a newspaper in foreign language must be run by an Italian journalist. A first, significant step was taken with the Rome Charter (approved by the Journalist Association and the National Press Federation in June 2008), a Deontology Code concerning asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

Chapter published: 14-07-2016

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