Italy to Become First Country to Make Studying Climate Change Compulsory in Schools

Italy is to become the first country in the world in which the study of climate change will be made compulsory in schools, the education minister announced on Tuesday.

Under a new law, all state schools will dedicate around an hour a week to sustainability and climate change issues from the beginning of the next academic year, said Lorenzo Fioramonti. That would amount to around 33 hours a year.

“This is a new model of civic education centred on sustainable development and climate change,” the minister told The Telegraph.

“It’s a new subject that will be taught from grade one to grade 13, from the ages of six through to 19.”

The syllabus will be based on the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, including how to live more sustainably, how to combat the pollution of the oceans and how to address poverty and social injustice.

“Italy will be the first country in the world to adopt this framework,” Mr Fioramonti said.

“There are countries like Bhutan which focus on happiness and well-being rather than GDP, but this is the first time that a country has taken the UN agenda and turned it into a teaching model,” said the minister, who is a member of the Five Star Movement, which is in coalition with the centre-Left Democratic Party.

He was appointed education minister two months ago when the new coalition was formed after the collapse of the previous government, precipitated by Matteo Salvini of The League withdrawing his support.

In September, when millions of schoolchildren around the world took part in Fridays for Future marches, he courted criticism by saying Italian children should be allowed to miss school for the day.

The coalition is only two months old but already the two parties within it have been at odds over the 2020 budget and a humiliating defeat at the hands of the League in a regional election in Umbria.

The hard-Right League, despite being in opposition, remains by far Italy’s most popular party, with more than 30% of voter support.

Mr Fioramonti said he was confident the coalition would last the rest of the legislature but that even if it does not, his initiative will survive.

“The law has been passed. So unless there is a new government that really hates the law and destroys it, it will be implemented. It goes beyond this government.”

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