Italy adds climate change to school curriculum

It will start as a stand-alone course, but eventually be integrated into all subjects.

Italy’s education minister announced this week that, starting in September 2020, all students will receive 30 hours of climate change education as part of the school curriculum. Lorenzo Fioramonti told Reuters, “The entire ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the centre of the education model.” In doing this, Italy will become the first country in the world to make the study of climate change and sustainable development compulsory.

The 30 hours will be spread throughout the school year, with roughly one hour of instruction as part of a general civics class per week; however, Fioramonti explained that it will eventually become integrated into all traditional subjects, including geography, mathematics, and physics – “a sort of ‘Trojan horse’ that will ‘infiltrate’ all courses.” The syllabus will be based on the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, “a collection of 17 goals focused on tackling poverty, inequality and climate change” (via HuffPo).

Fioramonti is part of the anti-establishment 5-Star party that came to power in Italy in August and has a progressive view of environmental issues. He has been criticized for advocating for taxes on sugar, plastic, and flying, and for encouraging students to leave school to take part in the climate strikes last September. A former professor at Pretoria University in South Africa, he has published books on why gross domestic product (GDP) is an inaccurate way to measure wellbeing. His views are the opposite of rival party leader Matteo Salvini, who has questioned the validity of climate change.

This, Fioramonti responded, is exactly “the kind of nonsense we want to avoid by educating children that this is the most important challenge humanity has ever faced.” Environmental groups in Italy are supportive of the decision, but raise a good point – that responsibility for fixing this crisis cannot be handed off to the next generation. We need older people to join the fight as well.

Teachers will begin training for the new curriculum in January 2020, which will be created with the assistance of a panel of experts from Harvard and Oxford.

It will start as a stand-alone course, but eventually be integrated into all subjects.

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