Starting in September 2020, Italy will be the first country in the world to introduce mandatory climate-related lessons in state schools. Schools will be obliged to include 33 hours of lessons in their annual curriculum, which averages about one hour a week. There will also be a move to teach more traditional lessons such as physics, maths and geography through a sustainable development lens.
Italy’s education minister, Lorenzo Fioramonti, has said he wants the Italian education system to be the first in the world to place ‘the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school’.
Generation Z will be the first generation to live their entire lives under hostile climate change. Education is the first step in ensuring this generation have the knowledge and capabilities to reverse and deal with the catastrophic effects that will invariably come to dominate their future.
It is evident that young people care about climate change. ‘Fridays for the Future’, led by youth activist Greta Thunberg has garnered global support from thousands of school children all protesting against climate inaction. The surging participation in these youth strikes are proof that young people want to be involved in the future wellbeing of the planet. Italy’s new educational policy, then, is listening to these young people’s demands and is no doubt partially a response to their dissatisfaction with governmental inaction.
Reports which cite the rising levels of ‘eco-anxiety’ in children highlight the need for multifaceted climate change education in schools. A well-rounded picture of climate change rather than the apocalyptic messages spread in the media is something that’s been previously absent in school curriculums. Hopefully other countries will follow Italy’s suit in a much needed move towards a climate change education which engages with young people about their own future and takes their opinions about climate change seriously.