Italy becomes the first country to teach climate change in school

Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti has announced that the topics of climate change and global warming will soon be taught as subjects in Italian schools.

Starting next September, students in Italian public schools will attend lessons on climate change for a total of 33 hours a year, more or less one per week. The reform was announced by Lorenzo Fioramonti, former Economics professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and current Italian Education Minister, in an interview with Reuters.

Lorenzo Fioramonti Italy Education Minister
Lorenzo Fioramonti, Education Minister © Lorenzo Fioramonti/Facebook

Starting from September, sustainability will be at the heart of education

At the start of the next academic year, the Italian educational programme will undergo a significant change brought by the introduction of mandatory lessons on the issues of climate change and sustainable development. All public schools will be required to implement this transformation. In addition, traditional subjects such as geography, mathematics and physics will also be taught integrating the perspective of sustainable development.  

“The entire ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the centre of the educational model,” Fioramonti told Reuters. “I want to make the Italian educational system the first educational system that puts the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school”.

Italian students participate in the third Global Climate Strike © Cecilia Bergamasco

Fioramonti supports the climate strikes

When the third Global Climate Strike organised by the Fridays for Future movement took place on the 27th of September, minister Fioramonti wrote a letter addressed to school teachers and principals. In it, he urged them to accept pupils skipping school to protest for the climate. In response, he was heavily criticised by the political opposition, accused of discouraging students from attending lessons to take part in the marches instead.

Read more: Climate Action Week, emotions and numbers from the greatest climate mobilisation in history

Classrooms go green to tackle the climate crisis

The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) launched the website Il verde a scuola, “green at school” to encourage students and teachers in particular to submit proposals and ideas on the environment, climate change and education around development. “Increasingly sustainable behaviours and development models are key to safeguarding the future of the Earth’s ecosystems. The MIUR values educational experiences that promote respect for the environment,” is the message on the website’s homepage. For these reasons, students and teachers are invited to use the platform to share their environmentally-minded projects as well as examples of best practices experimented in school.

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