The U.K. education secretary Gavin Williamson has announced new $5.5 million programme to teach Latin at 40 schools across country. Mr Williamson said Latin Excellence Programme aims to "level up" opportunities for students in some government-run schools. Latin is language that was spoken in area around Rome over 2,000 years ago. It is taught in 49% of UK's "elite" private schools but only 2.7% of state schools. Williamson said: "Latin has reputation as an elitist subject, which is reserved for privileged few, but subject can bring so many benefits to young people, so I want to put end to that divide." He added: "Latin can help pupils with learning modern foreign languages."
initiative has sparked heated debate about benefits of Latin. Many people have ridiculed programme as being nothing but "poorly-funded gimmick". Politician Tim Farron wrote: "Latin is elite because only people who are guaranteed successful careers, thanks to family connections, can afford to waste time on subject whose only practical application is in understanding... dialogue in [ancient] books." Author Emma Kennedy questioned the use of "dead" language. She uses Latin to "occasionally translate things on tombs". teacher said money would be better spent on living languages like Chinese or Arabic that would enable children "to get ahead in and engage with world," or on computer coding.