The Colour Of Our children

“I needed to start primary school because I got here (Vicenza) at the age of 5 and a half, almost 6. At the time, my father had recently been involved in a serious accident and he could not do very much. My mother had just come to a place she didn’t know very well and she was still struggling with Italian language, so we basically relied on her cousin in Vicenza to help us and take us everywhere we wanted to go. I remember I went with my parents to the local council in preparation for my enrolment in the primary school… The person we met in the council did everything that needed to be done and he told us to go and see the priest who was heading the school in the town. We went happily to see the priest, but right there our day grew cold with the reaction of the priest who said to my mother: ‘Well, sorry I cannot accept your daughter in the class because she is of the coloured…’ This, the priest said, was to avoid a difficulty on the part of Italian children who had never seen an African child before and would find it difficult to socialise with me. Then he added that the only thing he could do was to send us to a private school to be assigned a private teacher for me and my younger brother who was three years old and needed to start nursery school. Luckily enough, my mother did not understand Italian language very well, so she replied: ‘Ok, don’t worry, I will take care of it; I will educate my own children…’” –Ethiel France: the six year-old girl who was rejected in elementary school in Fara, Vicenza.