Defining the Right to Education for European Citizens (1955–1966)
During the early years of the European Community (EC), children with Italian citizenship were the largest group of “guest worker children” in the Federal Republic. As European Community member state nationals, these children fit into EC discussions of human resources and a need for equal education opportunities. Yet, even as the Länder Ministries of Education changed school laws extending compulsory education, they—particularly in North Rhine-Westphalia—emphasized the cultural distance of Italianness from Germanness. Consequently, Italian state advocacy for its students’ access to education as well as cultural maintenance resulted in the development of extra instructional classes for culture. Yet, when the Netherlands asked for similar classes for its citizens, the request was denied as the children were already German enough.