We are a non profit, non government organization of parents who want their children to
acquire a good knowledge of both official languages spoken in South Tyrol: German and
Italian ( plus a smaller number of Ladins).
We live in a bilingual province in Northern Italy, close to the Austrian and Swiss borders. According to the latest census carried out in the autumn of 1991 the Germans with 287,503 persons represent 67.99 per cent of the population; the Italians with 116,914 represent 27.65 per cent and the Ladins with 18,434 represent 4.36 per cent. Language parity is guaranteed by law.
We believe that learning the second language is both a practical necessity and a cultural enrichment for all.
We think that language immersion is a viable method and would like to see it adopted in state schools.
The Statute of Autonomy
provides the legal framework for the protection of the German minority in South Tyrol.
Article 19 states that schools are either in German or Italian, teachers have to belong to the linguistic group of the school they teach at. Students are free to choose the school they want to go to. German is a compulsory subject (called second language) in Italian schools and viceversa.
Command of German by Italians living in South Tyrol has improved lately, but is still considered to be unsatisfactory. The Association of Parents for Bilingual Education is supporting various didactical initiatives at Italian primary schools that implement immersion teaching and learning and copresence of Italian and German teachers.
Local government has put a ban on further initiatives implementing forms of immersion and copresence. The leading majority party (Südtiroler Volkspartei) maintains, that the German minority's cultural identity would be jeopardized by any weakening of the language integrity of the school.
We simply think that if students and parents desire to have a greater number of classes
of German, and believe that immersion is a good method, they should be free to have them.
This is no menace to the integrity of the German minority at all. Because:
At a small number of Italian primary schools immersion classes are held on an