By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory
We have come to that stage where climate change is no longer just an ‘issue’ but a wake-up call to our civilization spoken in the lingo of storms, droughts, food shortages, and extinctions. And in an inspiring development, Italy will be the first nation to make it compulsory for children to learn about climate change. Starting next academic year, students are going to devote an hour each week to catch up on the effects of climate change.
The Italian school will even teach the usual subjects such as mathematics, physics, and geography from the standpoint of sustainable development. Lorenzo Fioramonti, the Italian education minister announced these urgent reforms in the education system.
Mr. Fioramonti is the former political economics professor at the University of Pretoria and an associate fellow of GovInn. He said that he is implementing a major revamp of the education ministry. He wants to make climate and sustainability the core of the new model of education. He wants the education system in Italy to be the first to put the society and environment at the heart of all subjects taught in schools.
All state schools will devote over 33 hours a year to the new prototype of civic education, focused on climate change and sustainable development. It will be for the students of ages 6 to 19 and taught from grade 1 to 13, he told The Telegraph. The course will be embedded in the existing civic syllabus which will contain an “environmentalist footprint” starting September 2020, said Vincenzo Cramarossa, the spokesman for the minister.
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The syllabus relies largely on the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and its 17 sustainable development goals which among other issues, promotes sustainable agriculture, management of water, and the use of solar energy. It strives to make human settlements safe and sustainable and conserve the use of marine resources.
Firamonti took over as Education Minister a couple of months ago. He has been criticized before in September for encouraging students to skip classes and take part in environmental protests. When children took to the streets in millions all over the world in the ‘Fridays for Future‘ marches, the minister supported their cause. He even allowed them to take the day off.
He wants to change the entire education system of Italy and place society and the environment at the heart of all education in schools, he told Reuters. He said the lessons will be a sort of “Trojan Horse” to break into all courses.
There have been some dissenting voices. Edoardo Zanchini of
Italy’s leading environmental group, Legambiente, said that teaching about sustainability is definitely important but children should not take on all the responsibility. He said the time to act is now as the next 10 years are crucial.
Mr. Fioramonti is from the Five Star Movement, an anti-establishment and environmentalist movement. He has written several books that oppose the use of GDP as a yardstick to measure the economic success of a nation. Countries like Bhutan focus on happiness rather than GDP. But Italy is the first country that has adopted the UN agenda and inculcated it into their nation’s school syllabus.
He has been targeted for proposing new taxes on plastic and sugary foods among other things to raise educational funds. But Fioramonti has argued that it is a tax to discourage wasteful expenditure.
He said the government will last only if it is brave and progressive in matters of economy and the environment. He wants to represent an Italy that stands firm in its resolve to tackle problems head-on.
Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych