Following massive protests, Italy's pupils will continue to be taught the theory of evolution.
Italy debates: Should kids learn that humans evolved from apes?
Italy's creationists were jubilant until Italian Education Minister Letizia Moratti flip-flopped on cutting the theory of evolution from national school curricula last week. Moratti claimed she never planned to remove it from teaching syllabi. In that case, it's unclear how tens of thousands of people got it in their heads to appeal to her not to rid schools of Charles Darwin's theories.
"Discussion of Darwin's theories is guaranteed for all children from six to 18 years," Moratti said Friday. She added that a commission would be established to decide on details about how it would be taught. Nobel prize laureate Rita Levi Montalcini, 95, is set to head the body.
Just for scientists
Italy was in an uproar for weeks after the education ministry released reworked national curricula that left the theory of evolution out of secondary schools. "Pupils aged 10 to 13 are much too young to be confronted with such complicated material," Director General Silvio Criscuoli, who was responsible for the teaching plans, explained. Only older pupils who specialized in natural science would have learned about the theory of evolution.
Education Minister Moratti defended the change by explaining that pupils should learn about the origin of species gradually, according to "didactic criteria." That is, they would first learn the Biblical version of the creation and, only years later, the scientific theory.
But, as in the United States, creation and evolution are political issues in Italy. In February, Alleanza Nazionale, one of parties in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's governing coalition, held a week long series of events to dispute the theory of evolution. In the course of a conference entitled "Teaching Evolution: a Fairytale for the Schools," parliamentarian Pietro Cerullo linked Darwin's theory to leftist thought.
Charles Darwin poses in a wicker chair in 1875.
"We can't just tell them fairytales," one opponent to the new curricula told German news agency DPA.
Amnesty International has said some 200 refugees presumed to have died in a major shipwreck last year could have been saved if Italian and Maltese authorities had not dithered over rescue operations.
EU diplomats have decided to keep in place a tough package of sanctions against Russia, over its actions in eastern Ukraine and support of rebels there. A peace plan had not yet been fully implemented, they said.
Catalonia's regional authorities have halted the publicity campaign for an upcoming independence referendum. The move comes a day after Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the vote.
Robbie Williams did it, and so did George Michael. Now it's Lady Gaga's turn. The colorful pop diva recorded a jazz and swing album together with jazz legend Tony Bennett. An unusual collaboration - that works great.