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