Italy is set to make history as the first nation to make climate change studies a mandatory lesson for all schoolchildren.
The country’s education minister, Lorenzo Fioramonti, announced plans for all state schools to introduce the new lesson and stated that schools will dedicate at least one hour per week to studying various climate change issues in the next academic year.
The former university professor states that traditional subjects, like geography, mathematics and physics, will also be studied from a sustainable development perspective.
The education minister stated:
“The entire ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the centre 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.”
Mr Fioramonti has been under recent fire in September and was heavily criticized by opposition parties for encouraging school students to bunk school and participate in climate protests around the country.
The 42-year-old politician of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, has written several books that argue GDP (gross domestic product), unlike in the past, should not be used as a country’s main measure of economic prowess in today’s world. He has routinely been targeted by right-wing opposition since he took office in Italy’s coalition government of the parties Five Star and the center-left Democratic Party.
Attacked from all angles by politicians and critics alike, he has pushed forward proposals for new taxes on airline tickets, sugary foods and plastic in order to raise funds for education. Those against him say Italians are already over-taxed.
He also sparked controversy from conservatives after suggesting crucifixes should be removed from Italian classrooms in order to create an inclusive environment for non-Christians and atheists.
However, the education secretary has stuck to his guns despite the heavy criticism and the government’s new 2020 budget has this week outlined plans to include both the plastic tax and a new tax on sugary beverages.
“I was ridiculed by everyone and treated like a village idiot, and now a few months later the government is using two of those proposals and it seems to me more and more people are convinced it is the way to go,”
Recent poll surveys suggest that around 75% of Italians back the proposed tax on sugar and flights, he said, adding that legislators advised him that they would table budget amendments that included his proposals by the end of the year.
Directed taxes of this kind are a sure fire way of discouraging over consumption of such items, Mr Fioramonti said, adding that the taxes would generate resources for schools, welfare and a lower income tax.
He has also suggested similar tax increases on various types of gambling and oil drilling.
His progressive stance is almost the complete opposite of Matteo Salvini’s hard-right League, which has recently overtaken the Five Star party to become Italy’s number one political party, gaining over 30% of public support.
Mr Fioramonti said:
“I want to represent the Italy that stands against all the things that Salvini does.
“We have to build a different narrative and not be afraid of saying something Salvini may not like, because that’s why we exist.”