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Turin, My City. Language and active citizenship courses.

Geographic Area

Italy

City

Turin

Language

Italian

Type of Information

  • Project or programme
  • Case studies

Organisation

Mondi In Città Onlus

Contact Person

Maria Adele Valperga Roggero (Login to send email)

Contact Person Function

Project Start

31/10/2000

Ongoing Project

Yes

Summary

The ‘Turin, My City’ programme, which started in 2000, focuses on immigrant women living in Turin, Italy who came from Maghreb countries. The programme aims to improve the lives of these women by offering a place where they can learn the Italian language and how to navigate life and society in Italy. Besides being taught by expert Italian language teachers (who are all female), the women get advice from a variety of professionals—including social workers, teachers and doctors—regarding subjects like how to contact health, schooling and assistance services in Italy; how to interact with social workers and how to follow their children’s educational paths.

Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption

Many immigrant women from Maghreb countries come to Italy for family reunification and thereafter have limited integration opportunities due to childcare and household responsibilities, which prevent them from being able to attend language courses. In addition, sometimes their husbands do not permit them to attend courses in mixed-gender classrooms. These factors make it difficult for North African immigrant women to participate in language courses and other integration activities, which generally take place in the evening (when children are home) and in mixed-gender environments. The ‘Turin, My City’ programme aims to solve these problems by allowing women to enrol in training courses that are staffed and attended solely by women and are held during morning hours to accommodate children’s school schedules. The programme also provides childcare for preschool-aged children during its classes.

How does it work

The programme participants are evaluated during registration for their existing Italian language knowledge and their educational backgrounds. The participants are then grouped into a course level based on their profiles, ranging from illiterate/low education with very limited knowledge of Italian to medium/higher education with some knowledge of Italian. All participants in this programme are female (except for some preschool-age children who receive childcare). The programme staff are also female.

The participants have 6 hours of courses per week from October to June, typically 2 days per week for 3 hours each day, and always during weekday mornings. The courses are free of charge. During class time, the programme provides childcare services for children who are preschool-age. The participants receive a total of 180 hours of instruction, comprised of:

  • 120 hours of instruction in Italian language, foreign language, mathematics and civics, led by an expert language learning teacher who is accompanied by a trained volunteer on North African culture and/or a trainee from the University of Turin.
  • 60 hours of instruction in ‘active citizenship’, including meetings with experts on immigration issues, maternal and child health, job training, children’s education, etc.
  • Individual consultations with experts in education, law, personal finance and family counseling who are available to meet periodically during class time.
  • Basic level students can take part in a welcome tour of Turin, to introduce them to the culture, monuments and notable places of the city. The tour is guided by intercultural escorts and given and/or translated in Arabic, English and French.
  • Intermediate and advanced students take part in:
    • Guided visits in Arabic/Italian to cultural institutions like the Egyptian Museum and the Royal Museums.
    • Workshops comprised of a meeting with an expert on a relevant theme, followed by subsequent meetings in class groups led by the teacher (assisted by a dialogue facilitator and/or peer educator) during which the participants discuss their experiences and difficulties with the theme. The workshop themes have included: integration and daily life (e.g. cultural differences, relationships with people from other cultures, etc.); education and school; experiences as (immigrant) women; interreligious dialogue; nutrition etc.

The programme has signed agreements with local Centres for Adult Education (CPIAs), which are government-run centres for education and training of adult immigrants. The agreements allow the programme courses to be recognised by the CPIA as ‘formative credits’ that allow students to obtain A2 language certification at the CPIA or to take the exam certifying secondary school completion. In turn, the CPIAs direct women with children aged 0-3 years to the programme.

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Results

During the 2017-2018 programme year, 366 women registered for the course, accompanied by 200 children. 48.9% were newly registered, while 51.1% were returning.

Since the programme’s inception, over 3,000 women have enrolled in the course, and about 1,500 women obtained a lower secondary school license (licenza di scuola media inferiore).

Evaluation

Programme managers coordinate the programme’s activities and are responsible for ensuring achievement of objectives and verifying progress and budgetary compliance. The programme’s teachers also coordinate with CPIA teachers to monitor training courses.

Who will benefit?

Immigrant women from North African countries who live in Turin, Italy are the principal beneficiaries of the programme. In addition, their preschool-aged children receive childcare during class time. Because the programme incorporates significant counseling on health, school education and other living needs, the families of participants can also benefit from the participants’ improved knowledge on Italian life and society.

In addition, as increased numbers of women from Sub-Saharan Africa have expressed interest in the courses, the programme is beginning to implement tools suitable to their needs (for example, translations of documents into English and French).

Source of funding and Resources used

The programme is supported by a number of foundations, private donations and the City of Turin. It also relies on volunteer and donated services.

Space: The programme operates in 4 different locations. It receives free rooms/spaces from public bodies and associations, except for reimbursement of expenses (i.e. cleaning costs).

Publicity: The press office of the Torino public libraries provides support for dissemination of promotional posters.

Staff: The programme has over 40 staff members: coordinators, teachers, volunteers, cultural mediators, etc. Among the paid personnel are approximately 12 women of immigrant origin.

Costs: For 2017, the programme spent approximately 64,000 euros on typical programme activities (i.e. teaching-related costs), including invoiced teacher services (4,500); compensation for cultural mediators (21,700); costs of photocopies, stationery and printing costs, travel expenses (4,500); programme coordination and exam preparation (11,800); accounting and legal fees (11,000). In addition to teaching-related costs, the progamme spent about 17,600 euros for childcare and children’s entertainment (in Arabic).