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London wants to promote Latin as a school subject


The British Ministry of Education is launching a pilot project to enable schoolchildren to learn Latin. It is also about equal opportunities in the socially divided education system.

The British Ministry of Education is launching a pilot project to enable schoolchildren to learn Latin.

It is also about equal opportunities in the socially divided education system.

London - Latin, it is often said, jokingly, is the late revenge of the Romans on the Teutons.

If the plans of the British government go according to plan, thousands of English schoolchildren could soon also coin the bon mot.

Because Education Minister Gavin Williamson wants to significantly expand Latin teaching in state schools.

The British comedian group Monty Python used to make fun of Latin, now the government wants to revive the "dead" language - are the British crazy, as comic hero Obelix would say?

Obviously not.

Williamson sees advantages on several levels - Latin could even help to improve school education, which is often criticized as a two-class system.

"We know that Latin has a reputation for being an elite subject reserved for the privileged few," Williamson said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

"But there are so many advantages to this subject for young people, so I want to close this gap."

The status quo shows a dramatic difference: while Latin is offered in around half (49 percent) of private teaching institutions, the subject is only offered in 2.7 percent of public schools, according to a report by the British Council.

For comparison: In Germany, a total of 5.8 percent of students learned Latin in 2019/20.

The UK school system is seen as one of the causes of social injustice in the country.

While wealthy parents send their children to private schools for tens of thousands of pounds a year, where they often forge elite circles for their future professional lives at a young age, children who attend free state schools often have a more difficult time getting a good job affected by poverty and violence.

Studies have shown that private school graduates have significantly better career opportunities.

The country is dominated by a small layer of the seven percent who have attended private institutions, the think tank Sutton Trust found in 2019.

Judges, doctors, the military or even politicians like Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who, however, had a scholarship - the majority of British leaders enjoyed private schooling.

Now Latin is supposed to help repair this imbalance.

But there are other reasons as well, as the Telegraph writes.

Knowledge of Latin is also helpful in other subjects such as English or maths.

In addition, the ministry is betting that Latin will also help with learning other languages.

With the exception of Spanish, interest in modern foreign languages ​​has decreased significantly in recent years, according to the British Council. In 2005, 12,716 young people chose French for their A-level qualification, which is similar to the Abitur, in 2020 it was only 7,557. The number of German graduates even halved during the period: from 5,481 to 2,666.

This should be counteracted. One reason is - even if no one puts it in their mouth - the Brexit. Because the new, strict immigration rules make it difficult for skilled workers to move in and exchange with foreigners. The fact that the British government left the Erasmus student exchange program after leaving the EU is also seen as a setback for language exchanges. Too many Britons, they themselves admit, rely on the global lingua franca of English to get them far in the world. And then notice that there is still a problem with the communication.

In addition, the corona pandemic has thrown language acquisition back.

Foreign languages ​​were often among the first subjects to be dropped in video lessons, the British Council points out.

The die has been cast: A four-year pilot program is planned at 40 state schools, especially in socially disadvantaged areas, for which a total of 4 million pounds (4.7 million euros) are planned.

The focus is primarily on children and young people between the ages of 11 and 16.

Visits to Roman sites in the country are planned as an incentive in order to promote a deeper understanding of the language and culture.

After all, Great Britain has a rich Roman history, with the Romans ruling large parts of the island for centuries.

Archaeologists can still find Roman ruins or mosaics.


Source: merkur

All news articles on 2021-08-02

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