Italy makes climate change lessons compulsory at schools

Climate change will soon become a compulsory course in all the schools of Italy, making it the first country to take such a move, according to new legislation announced by the Education Ministry.

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All state schools will dedicate around an hour a week to sustainability and climate change issues from the beginning of the next academic year said the Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti. That would amount to around 33 hours a year.

“This is a new model of civic education centered on sustainable development and climate change,” the minister told The Telegraph. “It’s a new subject that will be taught from grade one to grade 13, from the ages of six through to 19.”

The lessons will be built into existing civics classes, which will have an “environmentalist footprint” from September 2020, Vincenzo Cramarossa, Fioramonti’s spokesman, said.

The syllabus will be based on the United Nation’s 17 sustainable development goals, including how to live more sustainably, how to combat the pollution of the oceans and how to address poverty and social injustice, among many others.

“Italy will be the first country in the world to adopt this framework,” Fioramonti said. “There are countries like Bhutan which focus on happiness and well-being rather than GDP, but this is the first time that a country has taken the UN agenda and turned it into a teaching model.”

Fioramonti was appointed Education minister two months ago. In September, when millions of schoolchildren around the world took part in Fridays for Future marches, he said Italian children should be allowed to miss school for the day.

An economics professor at South Africa’s Pretoria University, Fioramonti told Reuters in an interview that the entire ministry “is being changed to make sustainability and climate the center 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,” he said.

Cramarossa said a panel of scientific experts, including Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development, and American economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin, will help the ministry redevelop the national curriculum to pay more attention to climate change and sustainability.

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