It will soon be compulsory for students in Italy to participate in a course on climate change. Italy is the first country in the world to institute such a program at its public schools.
From next year, Italian students will spend just under one hour per week learning about the ongoing climate crisis and sustainable development. Students will also study traditional subjects including physics, math, and geography with an emphasis on sustainability and climate change. The Education Ministry is developing the course with the help of scientific experts.
“The entire ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the center of the education model,” Italian Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti told Reuters.
“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,” added Fioramonti.
The Education Minister is part of the “populist” Five Star Movement, which formed a ruling coalition with the Democratic Party in September. The coalition formed to keep Matteo Salvini’s right-wing League Party from government.
Fioramonti said: “I want to represent the Italy that stands against all the things that Salvini does.”
Fioramonti has called on the government to introduce new taxes on plastics, sugary foods, and airline tickets. The money from these taxes could help fund further education. He has received both support and criticism for his ideas, though the latest Italian budget proposal presented to parliament included both sugary drinks and plastics taxes.
The Climate Crisis
In September, Fioramonti encouraged Italian pupils to participate in international climate strikes.
According to movement organizers Global Climate Strike, September’s global actions saw a record 7.6 million people protest. Many protesters were students taking part with the blessing of school officials.
The New York City Department of Education said prior to the strikes that it would not penalize students for participating.
The strikes were first inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. The teenage vegan environmentalist inadvertently started a global movement by skipping schools on Fridays to protest for climate action.