Italy Is Making Climate Change Lessons Compulsory In Schools

Laura Paddison

Children studying in Italy’s public schools will soon have climate change lessons on their weekly schedules. 

Italy’s education minister, Lorenzo Fioramonti, announced on Tuesday that climate change and sustainability will be a mandatory part of education for students ages 6 to 19. The new law will make Italy the first country in the world to introduce compulsory climate change education at all levels. 

Teachers will start training in the new year and the school module will be rolled out in September 2020. 

Initially, the classes will amount to 33 hours a year ― about an hour a week ― but the aim is also to thread the topic through traditional subjects such as geography and math. The syllabus will center around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a collection of 17 goals focused on tackling poverty, inequality and climate change.

Fioramonti is a member of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement in Italy and a key advocate of environmental policies. Previously a professor of political economy, he has written about the need to move beyond traditional measures of economic success, such as gross domestic product, and toward better ways of measuring our well-being.   

As a government minister, he has voiced support for taxes on flying, sugar-sweetened drinks and plastics. And in September, he encouraged students in Italy to skip school to join the global climate strikes, saying on Facebook that schools should consider absences as justified because children’s lives are “threatened by environmental devastation and an unsustainable economic development.”

His green policies have made him a target of Italy’s popular, far-right Lega party whose leader, Matteo Salvini, has cast doubt on climate...

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