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The schools in Italy will offer one hour of sustainability and climate-related lessons per week. The move, which will come into effect in September, makes Italy the world’s first country to introduce mandatory climate education in state schools. Subjects such as physics and geography will also be taught from a sustainability angle.
The Italian education minister, Lorenzo Fioramonti, said he wants the country’s education system to place “the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school”
The 33-hour-a-year lesson will be used as a pilot program to ultimately fold the climate agenda of the United Nations into the entire curriculum.
The days of merely studying place names and locations in geography class will be over. Geography courses will soon study the impact of human actions on different parts of the planet, too.
For children age 6 to 11, Fioramonti said, “we are thinking of using the fairy-tale model,” in which stories from different cultures would emphasize a connection to the environment. Middle schoolers would be expected to learn more technical information, and high school students would explore the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in depth.
Teaching children about sustainability is “certainly very important” said Edoardo Zanchini, vice president of Legambiente, Italy’s leading environmental group. But he warned that responsibility should not simply be passed on to children.
“Science tells us the next 10 years are crucial,” he said. “We cannot wait for the next generation.”
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