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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Italy will have climate education in schools. India must follow suit

Despite its impact on every facet of our lives, from social to economic, the issue is still languishing on the margins of our lives. The general public is still not talking enough about what we can do at a personal level to tackle the climate’s challenges

analysis Updated: Nov 13, 2019 12:04 IST
KumKum Dasgupta
KumKum Dasgupta
Hindustan Times
School children hold placards as they participate in a protest against the inaction to curb global warming and climate change,  Connaught Place, New Delhi, March 15, 2019
School children hold placards as they participate in a protest against the inaction to curb global warming and climate change, Connaught Place, New Delhi, March 15, 2019(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
         

Last week, Italy’s education minister, Lorenzo Fioramonti, said that from next year public schools students in every class will have to study climate change and sustainability. The lessons, which were at first taught as part of the students’ civics education, will become integrated throughout a variety of subjects — a “Trojan horse” that will “infiltrate” all courses. The Italian government’s step to ensure that the young grow up as “sustainable citizens” couldn’t have come at a better time for two reasons. One, climate reports have been warning that the next 10 years are crucial for the world; and second, this year has seen the rise of several young leaders who have taken political leaders to task for recklessly causing and perpetuating life-threatening climate change. Global leaders must listen to the children, and leverage their energy and enthusiasm to hammer out the message to all strata of society about the clear and present danger.

In September, climate activist Greta Thunberg and 15 other children from around the world, including 11-year-old Ridhima Pandey from Uttarakhand, filed a complaint with the United Nations alleging that five of the world’s major economies have violated their human rights by not taking adequate action to stop the unfolding climate crisis. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words — and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones,” Ms Thunberg said. “People are suffering, people are dying.”

India must learn from Italy, and invest in climate change education. Despite its impact on every facet of our lives, from social to economic, the issue is still languishing on the margins of our lives. The general public is still not talking enough about what we can do at a personal level to tackle the climate’s challenges. It is true that schools in India do have something called environmental studies but most children forget what they learnt by the time they clear school. There is a need to “infiltrate” climate change-related issues into other subjects. For example, why aren’t children taught about water conservation when they read history? After all, most Indian forts had elaborate water harvesting methods. To do this, our textbooks need to change; but before that our mindset must alter.