The early school leaving issue among Chinese students in the super-diverse city of Prato

By / 01-24-2022 /

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2021


The early school leaving issue among Chinese students in the super-diverse city of Prato



Piero Ianniello


Prato is the most multiethnic city in the country, hosting 20 per cent foreigner residents. It is home of one of the largest Chinese communities in Europe, specialising in the textile sector. Yet economic success does not translate into educational success for the first- and second-generation Chinese students. Early school leavings represent a pressing issue in Prato’s educational system, with 16.2 per cent of all students leaving school before graduating from high school. Among foreigner students, the problem is even more alarming, reaching 50 per cent. The highest leaving rate is recorded among Chinese students. This paper examines the phenomenon of early school leavings within the Chinese community in Prato. The article works to critically assess educational policies, local statistics, and ethnographic findings derived from participant observation and in-depth interviews with headmasters, teachers, and students from one middle school, three high schools, and one Chinese school in Prato. The paper aims to explore and analyse causes for early school leaving within the Chinese community, such as flaws in the Italian legislation in conjunction with the chronic shortage of funds for schools, the clash of educational style, and the lack of parental involvement. Finally, the paper examines strategies implemented by schools in Prato in an effort to redress the phenomenon and how the low educational engagement affects the cultural, social, economic, and symbolic capital of Chinese students.