UK debates usefulness of Latin after government expands teaching of language to state schools to break ‘elitist’ reputation

A debate has been sparked on the usefulness of learning Latin, after it was announced on Saturday that the government is to spend £4 million to expand the teaching of the ancient language to state secondary schools in England.

Latin lessons will be introduced in 40 schools from September next year as part of a scheme by the Department of Education to make the language more accessible for state school students, who, unlike their private-school counterparts, do not typically have the option of learning it.

In a statement on the scheme, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that, though Latin “has a reputation as an elitist subject which is only reserved for the privileged few”, the language “can bring so many benefits to young people, so I want to put an end to that divide.”

However, the announcement sparked a conflicted debate in the UK on whether or not Latin is still a useful language to learn in the 21st century.

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“I have no idea why the Tories are so obsessed with having Latin taught. I did it to A Level. I can occasionally translate things on tombs. That’s it”, tweeted author Emma Kennedy, while Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor, criticised the government for equipping children with skills he said were better suited to the first century than the 21st.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron also railed against the initiative, writing, “It’s elite because only people who are guaranteed successful careers thanks to family connections can afford to waste time on a subject whose only practical application is in understanding some of the dialogue in Asterix books”.

However, historian Dr Francis Young argued that Farron’s criticism was based on the errant belief that “Latin is all about the Romans”.

“Most of the stuff written by Romans has already been translated … But Latin was widely used up to and beyond 1700”, Young explained. “So, every time we need to engage with society before 1700, we may need Latin”.

Young added that he’s used his knowledge of Latin to translate texts as diverse as medicine recipes for scientists, old company records, legal documents “that are still applicable in the modern world” and literature that was published in the language until the end of the last century.

“Just yesterday I was reading a book in Latin published in 1976. The idea that Latin is a ‘dead language’ is very much an Anglophone perspective”, he concluded.

Green Party spokesperson and former Member of the European Parliament Catherine Rowett also celebrated the language, calling it “the best thing”, while television presenter Alistair Stewart praised Latin as “a corner stone of our own language”.

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Thousands march across France as nationwide opposition to domestic Covid ID shows no signs of fizzling out (VIDEOS)

Demonstrators have flooded the streets of cities and towns across France for the third straight week as citizens continue to resist the government’s plan to require a health pass to engage in several ordinary activities.

Huge crowds turned out in Paris on Saturday as riot police attempted to corral the seemingly endless columns of protesters filling the capital’s main thoroughfares. Drumming, chanting and exploding firecrackers could be heard in a Ruptly livestream of the massive demonstration. The protesters could be heard shouting “Liberty!” as they snaked their way through the city’s streets.

At one point, scuffles broke out and police deployed tear gas as law enforcement found themselves nearly surrounded by mobs of Parisians.

Dozens of other events were reportedly held in other parts of the country. 

Social media filled up with footage allegedly taken in the small city of Pau, located in southwestern France. Despite the city’s modest size, its streets were swarmed by demonstrators who turned out to express their disapproval with President Emmanuel Macron’s so-called “Green Pass.”

Other large turnouts were reported in cities and towns across the country, including in France’s overseas territories. 

Starting from August 9, French citizens will need a government-issued digital health pass in order to go inside a cafe or use certain forms of public transport. Individuals will need the ID to show that they are fully vaccinated, have tested negative for Covid-19, or have recovered from the virus. The controversial legislation also makes vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers. 

Since July 21, the Covid pass has been obligatory in order to visit museums, cinemas and other cultural venues with a capacity of more than 50 individuals. 

Following large-scale protests earlier this month, the French government made several concessions to the draconian rules, including lowering fines for violating the ID regime and pushing back when the policy would come into force at shopping malls.

Last week, Macron seemed to dismiss those who opposed the coercive measures as irresponsible and selfish, arguing that refusing to be vaccinated with the experimental jab would end up killing people. 

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‘You decide your own destiny’: Russian sharp shooter Elena Osipova admits heart skipped a beat on way to Olympic archery silver

Silver sensation Elena Osipova has become the first Russian archer to win an individual medal at the Olympics for 33 years, earning her second honor of the Tokyo Olympics following an epic final against an ultra-cool rival.

According to figures from the final – a thriller against South Korea’s An San, which Osipova only lost on a shootoff following a 5-5 draw – the Russian’s heart rate hit around 160 beats per minute, while her opponent appeared to remain more composed, recording a count closer to 100.

Perhaps that paid off as An, who has had to endure online bullying over her hairstyle at the Games, became the first archer to win three golds at a single Olympiad.

Top seed An was pushed all the way by Osipova, the 22nd-ranked athlete taking an archery medal back to Russia outside of a team event for the first time since the current president of the Russian Archery Federation, Vladimir Yesheev, won bronze in Seoul in 1988.

Osipova had already won silver in the team event, falling to the Koreans again in the final alongside fellow outstanding talents Ksenia Perova and Svetlana Gomboeva.

“In our sport, the result is always fair,” Osipova told the Russian Olympic Committee, adding that she had only targeted “doing her job” rather than specifically focusing on a podium finish.

“In archery, there are no judges, no assessments and other subjective factors. The athlete decides their own destiny.

“Hit the target – win. Miss – you go home with nothing. It’s simple. Today, there was a chance [for me] not to bring the matter to a tie-break, but it [just] did not work out.

“In the decisive shootout, my heart skipped a beat – and the arrow hit the eight.”

20-year-old An was labeled a feminist for cutting her hair short – and that term has been linked with a rise in misogyny among young men in her country recently.

After their athlete was tearful during the medal ceremony, An’s coach asked reporters not to ask non-sporting questions, and she refused to answer a query about the abuse she had received.

“I was trying to calm myself down and talking to myself: ‘Don’t be coy and just shoot’,” she said of the agonizingly close finish.

Celebrating to ‘Permission to Dance’, by K-pop band BTS, An also avenged Kang Chae-young’s comprehensive defeat to Osipova in the previous round.

Osipova thrashed Kang 7-1, having already demolished Italian Lucilla Boari 6-0, and a draw in the final round would have been enough to secure her the title.

Despite any frustration she might feel at spurning the lead, Osipova can look back with immense pride at a superb tournament that has firmly cemented the 28-year-old as a star of the sport following her double European Championships gold medals earlier this year.

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Will we soon see a Porsche 911 in low Earth orbit? RT’s Boom Bust looks into carmaker’s plan to join billionaires’ space race

The Porsche dynasty appears to be joining the space race to compete with Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, after the luxury car manufacturer acquired a stake in a German start-up Isar Aerospace.

The Ottobrunn-based rocket firm is focused on developing and managing launch vehicles to transfer satellites into orbit around Earth. Porsche has reportedly invested $75 million, which, the automaker said, represents a ‘low single-digit percentage stake’ in the German firm.

READ MORE: Jeff Bezos offers NASA $2 billion to get moon mission contract he lost to Elon Musk

RT’s Boom Bust talked with Aaron Pagel of DePaul University to find out how successful the car producer could be in the crowded market of small satellite launches.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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‘An immeasurable loss’: Dutch giants Ajax in mourning as teenage star Noah Gesser dies in tragic car accident

Dutch side Ajax have announced that highly-rated 16-year-old youth player Noah Gesser has passed away along with his brother following a car accident in Utrecht on Friday evening.

Gesser and his 18-year-old brother died after a car in which they were traveling collided with a taxi on the United Nations Road in IJsselstein, the club revealed after police initially refused to confirm the identities of the victims.

The driver of the taxi, meanwhile, was taken to hospital but is not thought to have sustained serious injuries.

Ajax has received the terrible news that Noah Gesser has passed away,” the club announced in a statement.

“The 16-year-old youth player died in a car accident with his brother on Friday evening.

“At the practice matches of Ajax 1 and Young Ajax this afternoon, the terrible news will be discussed. A minute of silence will be held before the matches start and the Ajax players will wear mourning bands. In addition, flags will be flown at half-mast at the Toekomst sports complex.

Ajax is deeply moved by this tragic event. The club wishes the loved ones all the strength in coping with this immeasurable loss.”

Gesser was considered by talent scouts to be among the finest members of Ajax’s famed youth academy in recent seasons, and had recently been promoted to the club’s under-17 squad after scoring 13 goals in just six games for Ajax’s under-16 team after he moved to the Amsterdam club from amateur side Alphense Boys in 2018.

A friend of mine has trained with him – they also played against each other three weeks ago,” one social media commenter wrote in response to the tragic news.

He was an incredible talent and he could decide a game by himself. RIP.”

Devastating beyond words,” added another. “God bless that young man’s family. RIP.

Devastating news – so young,” said a third, who also noted the loss of Gesser’s older brother.

Can’t imagine what his poor family must be going through.”

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