The UK has announced a $5.5 million programme to teach Latin at 40 of its schools. The Latin Excellence Programme aims to "level up" opportunities for students in some government-run schools. Latin was spoken in the area around Rome 2,000 years ago. It is taught in 49% of the UK's "elite" private schools but only 2.7% of state schools. The UK's education secretary said: "Latin has a reputation as an elitist subject, which is reserved for the privileged few, but the subject can bring so many benefits to young people." He added: "Latin can help pupils with learning modern foreign languages."
The programme has sparked a heated debate. Many people have ridiculed it as being a "poorly-funded gimmick". A politician wrote: "Latin is elite because only people who are guaranteed successful careers, thanks to family connections, can afford to waste time on ...understanding...the dialogue in [ancient] books." An author said she only uses Latin to "occasionally translate things on tombs". A teacher said money would be better spent on living languages like Chinese that would enable children "to get ahead in the world," or on computer coding.