“We have opened an extremely important chapter with sustainability training and education. The term regeneration is hardly a coincidence, as it means the ability to generate a new mind, a new capacity to understand, to see and to act. With a very clear vision: we are not saving the planet. We are saving ourselves, our children and the very notion of life itself. A fresh start after the pandemic, with a clear understanding of the great values that must guide our schools and the revival and rebirth of our country”. These are the words of Minister of Education, Universities and Research, Patrizio Bianchi.
Alongside the Undersecretary for Education, Senator Barbara Floridia, the minister unveiled ‘RiGenerazione Scuola’ (ReGeneration School) on 4 June, as a plan to bring about the ecological and cultural transition in schools as part of Italy’s implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda.
The core tenet is that schools should serve as places to activate educational projects on the environment, sustainability, cultural heritage and global citizenship. A stronger link with the local community and an intercultural education can gradually emerge from the classroom: more than any other institution, schools can guide young people towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
After all, these concepts have already been assimilated by the Ministry of Education. “Education on the environment, sustainability, cultural heritage and global citizenship can be used to foster an awareness, especially among our younger generations, that they are part of a local and also a global community”, affirms the ministry’s website.
Italy’s ReGeneration School Plan is set to receive roughly €1.2 billion in funding, split between the resources provided by the Ministry and those coming under Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
“ReGeneration School” will be built on four basic pillars: regeneration of knowledge; regeneration of infrastructures, through the construction of innovative buildings and new learning environments; regeneration of behaviours, with the adoption of environmentally friendly habits, even at school; and regeneration of opportunities, i.e. school curricula characterised by learning paths focused on ecology and sustainability.
This is an articulated programme featuring the establishment of organic and sustainable school canteens with 0 km products; 200 new fully energy-efficient schools; experiments in the recovery and redesign of materials in green laboratories with vegetable gardens, outdoor classrooms and green spaces; and a major project to plant new trees outside school buildings.
New generations can therefore receive an education to inhabit the world in a fresh way, to think in the long term and to pay attention to environmental issues, the sustainability of our economies and lifestyles.
We must shift from the concept of resilience to the concept of regeneration; we must no longer resist, but learn to live in a new world.
Senator Barbara Floridia, Undersecretary for Education
“If we succeed in educating young people to a new way of living in the world, we will succeed in changing the country. This is why we use the term ‘regeneration’: we must regenerate our thoughts. School is the perfect setting for this, as it is our country’s cultural infrastructure par excellence and the motorway of our thinking. We must shift from the concept of resilience to the concept of regeneration; we must no longer resist, but learn to live in a new world”, explained Undersecretary Floridia.
The Technical-Scientific Committee coordinating the project comprises Tullio Berlenghi, Federico Maria Butera, Alessandro Dini, Fabio Fava and Silvia Grandi. It will be tasked with pinpointing actions for an ecological and cultural transition to be taken to schools. Undersecretary Barbara Floridia will be steering the work of this green committee: “This structure will ensure that the Plan will continue in the coming years, regardless of the government in office. Environmental issues need to be addressed with a long-term vision. We are working for real change that benefits future generations. Because environmental challenges require decades of commitment”.
The year 2021 is an ideal time to begin such a journey: hopefully the pandemic will soon become a thing of the past, freeing up energy and time for redesigning our country’s future. Starting with schools.
“This is an important phase for schools and for Italy”, said Minister Bianchi, “which is why we are opening a new chapter on education for sustainability. There is hardly any better opportunity for a thorough overhaul, since school is the heartbeat of our communities. We are not saving the planet, yet after the pandemic we can start again with clear values, ones that we must instil in our schools and in the rebirth of the country”.