The Italian Education Minister, Lorenzo Fioramonti, told Reuters that Italy would be the first country in the world to make the study of climate change compulsory.
Fioramonti is a member of the 5-Star Movement, the anti-establishment party who are in a coalition with the Democratic Party (PD) and currently form the government.
He told Reuters that from the start of the next academic year in September, all public schools in Italy would be forced to teach at least 33 hours a year on climate change:
The entire ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the center of the education model. 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.
Not only would there be dedicated teaching time to climate change itself, but many other subjects would be taught from a perspective of “sustainable development,” such as mathematics, geography and physics.
Fioramonti is one of the most radical left-wing members of the government when it comes to environmental issues. In September, he encouraged students across Italy to take part in the strikes against climate change, and skip school.
He has also proposed to tax airline tickets, sugary foods and plastic, as well as catching the ire of conservatives for suggesting that classrooms should remove crucifixes – a massive point of contention in the majority Catholic nation.
It is no surprise that the League, the right wing populist party and former partners of 5-Star, have shot up to overtake them as the most popular party in Italy – with their charismatic leader, Matteo Salvini, they now command the support of over 30% of voters.
In the UK, the policy has started to take root at the university level. Koen Lamberts, the Vice Chancellor for the University of Sheffield, announced in September that all students, no matter what course they are on, will be forced to take classes on climate change and sustainable development.
Lamberts told cheering crowds that the University must act to “educate the next generation,” as it is “the young people who will be most affected by the impact of climate change in the years to come.”