UK: Protests grow in fight for Esol English language classes

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Apr 25 13:22:38 UTC 2007

Socialist Worker 2048, 28 April 2007 (

News & Reports

Protests grow in fight for Esol English language classes
John Budis

Over 100 people attended the Tower Hamlets College Save Esol (English for
speakers of other languages) rally, organised by the UCU lecturers union
on Wednesday of last week. The meeting was united in its condemnation of a
government policy change that directly contradicts its claim to be
championing social cohesion. Monica Lucero, a lecturer at Tower Hamlets
College, said, that there was a real fear that we would be faced with a
huge number of empty classes from next September as the new means-tested
approach to free Esol entitlement kicks in.

Paul Mackney, joint general secretary of UCU told the meeting, I know many
people shy away or seem to think its impolite to use this phrase in
educational circles, but lets be clear, this policy is racist! He added
that the government claim that there are no cuts in adult education stands
in complete contradiction to the redundancies taking place in most London
colleges. In Tower Hamlets alone there are 20 posts being axed on top of
the 35 that were lost last year. In City and Islington College there will
be 14 redundancies.

The government claim, that the changes to Esol funding were not intended
to cut provision but to target it more precisely, was widely ridiculed.
Mackney also warned the meeting to look out for a government press release
claiming that the new Esol policy was targeting those most in need to put
a positive spin on the changes. The waiting lists in Tower Hamlets are for
the entry grades, and these are the ones facing cuts. This is reflected
all across London and flies in the face of government claims that they
want to reduce the waiting lists.

The meeting went on to discuss the London-wide demonstration on Saturday
28 April. There will be three feeder marches converging on Hackney Town
hall at 2pm on the day. These will come from Highbury and Islington, Altab
Ali Park in Whitechapel and the Homerton Hospital in Hackney. Oliur
Rahman, a Respect councillor in Tower Hamlets, pledged full support for
the demonstration and stated that Respect would be raising the question of
the Esol cuts at the next full council meeting. There were also speeches
from Tower Hamlets and Hackney NUT teachers union. The Liberal Democrat
councillor, Azizur Rahman Khan also pledged his support for the campaign.

Demonstrate Saturday 28 April

Hackney: meet 1pm, Homerton hospital, Homerton Grove, march to Hackney
town hall. Tower Hamlets: meet 12 noon, Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel. City
& Islington: meet 12 noon at Highbury and Islington tube. For further
information go to


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