Writer Ben Dolbear Investigates Italy's new Climate Conscious Curricular
Photo by Geronimo Giqueaux
Italy has become the first country in the world to include lessons on climate change to the school curriculum.
State schools will, from the academic year beginning September 2020, be mandated to dedicate at least one hour of classes each week to sustainability and climate, regardless of class grade.
The move follows a year of changing attitudes in Italy. On 15 March, young environmentalists put the country in the world spotlight after drawing 475,000 people, many of whom had skipped school, to the first global climate strike in the streets of Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence, Naples, Bologna and Bari.
Education minister Lorenzo Fioramonti has said of the updated curriculum that, 'sustainable development is the greatest challenge that our generation is facing', pointing out that the youth around the world have taken a lead on this issue.
The news comes at a time when record flooding has brought misery to Venice and an estimated recovery bill of £800 million. Water levels in the city remain at the highest levels in half a century, with local authorities declaring a state of emergency.
Last week Venice Council offices were flooded moments after representatives rejected a plan to fight climate change in the city. Curriculum changes are not only focused on the new sustainability classes. In addition to this, the traditional core subjects from geography to mathematics will be taught from the perspective of sustainable development.
Mr Fioramonti commented, "The entire ministry [of education] is being changed to make sustainability and climate the centre of the education model. I want to make the Italian education system the first education system that puts the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school". Whilst a curriculum to reflect the climate crisis is crucial, however, some activists have expressed concern that the changes do not pervade the entirety of society.
Climate change classes are just one step in a cultural shift in Italy which has seen support for plastic taxes and school climate strikes surge.
Edoardo Zanchini, vice president of Legambiente, Italy’s leading environmental group, said that climate responsibility should not just be passed on to children, commenting, "Science tells us the next 10 years are crucial. We cannot wait for the next generation". This reflects words from Greta Thunberg at September's UN climate summit during which she said, "I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean".
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