"I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."
On Tuesday, November 5, Italy’s education minister said that as a step to put the country at the forefront of environmental education worldwide, its public schools would soon require students in every grade to study climate change and sustainability.
Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti said that the lessons which were initially taught as part of the students’ civics education will now be integrated throughout various subjects. He claimed that it is a sort of “Trojan horse” that will “infiltrate” all courses, reported The New York Times.
He said that starting September 2020, teachers in all grades will lead lessons in climate change and environmental sustainability. 33 hour-a-year lesson will be a pilot programme, and will ultimately fold the United Nation’s climate agenda into the syllabus.
The new subject was welcomed by environmental advocates, with some caveats.
Fioramonti is a member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which is extremely concerned about environmental issues. Conservatives have already targeted him for backing taxes on sugar and plastics. He has also been targeted for encouraging students to take part in climate protests instead of attending classes last September.
Fioramonti in an interview said that a group of experts — including Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Harvard Institute for International Development, and Kate Raworth of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute — will act as “peer reviewers” for ministry staff who are preparing the curriculum. The ministry will be ready to train teachers by January 2020.
The fairy-tale model will be introduced to children aged 6 to 11, in which stories of different cultures will have a connection with the environment. While middle schoolers would learn more technical information, high school students would explore in-depth the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Fioramonti said that a law passed last year, when Five Star was still aligned with the League, gave him the authority to introduce climate change lessons.
In the past few years, we have seen Chennai praying for rain and people in Mumbai reeling under a deluge. Today, these extreme disparities cannot be blamed on nature’s vagaries alone. Science has now established that human-induced climate change is playing a huge role.
Although no country is immune to these forces, India seems to be particularly vulnerable. In such a situation, following Italy’s footsteps and introducing climate change and sustainability as a subject in schools will step in the right direction.
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