January 18, 2021

Italy takes climate change to the classroom | Society



Climate change It will be subject of examination for Italian schoolchildren next year. The Minister of Education, Lorenzo Fioramonti, has announced that he intends to make Italy the first country in the world to include the study of the climate crisis in compulsory education and explained, in an interview with Reuters, that Starting in September, all schools will dedicate 33 hours a year, around one hour a week, to address the issue.

The minister, a former professor of Economics at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa, has also announced that teachers will teach lessons on environment and sustainable development at all stages of compulsory education. At the beginning they will do so as part of the subject of Education for Citizenship, which will also be mandatory from the next year, after 30 years of absence, within the framework of a pilot project whose final objective is to incorporate the climate agenda of the United Nations throughout the curriculum. According to the conception of the politician, who aims to “make sustainability and climate the center of the educational model”, other traditional subjects such as Geography, Mathematics or Physics will be studied “from a new perspective linked to sustainable development”, to analyze , for example, the effects of the action of man in the different areas of the planet.

Environmental activists have received the news of the new subject with optimism, but have also warned that all responsibility for caring for the planet should not fall solely on the youngest. “Instructing children in sustainability is certainly very important. But science tells us that the next 10 years will be crucial, we can't wait for the next generation, ”he told The New York Times Edoardo Zanchini, the vice president of Legambiente, the main environmental association of Italy.

Fioramonti, of the 5 Star Movement, a party with a strong environmental imprint, especially in its origins, has been at the forefront of the Education portfolio since September and in these months has been criticized for having encouraged students to skip classes to participate in the manifestations of the global weather strike, driven by the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and that in Italy has had great reception.

In a short time, the minister has become a target of opposition attacks for his proposals such as the removal of crucifixes from classrooms or the new rates for air tickets, plastics and sugary drinks and foods, which the Parliament must pass within the budget law for next year. “I have been ridiculed by everyone as the fool of the people and now the Government is using two of my proposals and it seems to me that more and more people are convinced that this is the way to go,” said Fioramonti. And he has justified that this type of tax is aimed at “discouraging consumption that is harmful to the environment and to people” and has argued that “they generate resources that can be allocated to schools, social policies or to cut taxes on rent".

On the opposite side is Matteo Salvini League, former Minister of Interior, which is the most popular party in Italy according to all polls, which give him around 30% of the votes and skeptical about climate change. The ultra-right-wing leader, on a cold day in May, last spring, mocked global warming. “Since the alarms on global warming have been getting colder than ever, we have had to turn the heaters back on. Where is that global warming? I'm waiting for him, ”he said.

With this example, the Minister of Education has indicated that he seeks to combat this type of "nonsense", teaching children that "this is the most important challenge that humanity has faced."

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