UK: UCU To Lobby Govt Over ESOL

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Jan 16 14:39:35 UTC 2007

UCU To Lobby Govt Over ESOL
16 January 2007

Pressure for change in policy gathering steam according to union The
University and College Union (UCU) launched a massive campaign yesterday
to lobby government in a bid to reverse the decision on ESOL funding.
Unions, colleges and other assorted organisations gathered in London to
debate the future of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL),
following the recent shift in priorities for the adult education budget.
According to the UCU, nearly 100 MPs have signed an EDM calling for the
government to reinstate appropriate funding for ESOL learning particularly
for those least able to afford to pay for their own training.

Paul Mackney, Joint General Secretary of UCU, said: This government is
basing much of its economic success on labour from overseas. It has an
obligation to provide the language lessons which enable migrants, refugees
and their families to play their full part not only at work but also in
society. We would encourage all those who agree with us to engage with our
campaign for a ministerial rethink, he added. Other commentators who are
pushing for ESOLs free status to be reinstated include Lisa Nandy, from
the Childrens Society. She said: In light of the efforts being made to aid
integration and build social cohesion it seems at best short-sighted to
pursue a policy which will create pools of exclusion containing people who
may remain in the UK for the rest of their lives.

Vicki Fagg, Principal of the College of North West London, highlighted the
course closures she has overseen at her college: We have been forced to
cut 750 places from ESOL and other adult education courses this year. We
have just under 1,000 people on the waiting list for English language
lessons. These people may therefore be prevented from accessing other
training and education programmes and/or the labour market and
contributing to our economy. The risk they will be socially excluded will
be greater. And a spokesperson from the Learning and Skills Council was
quoted as saying: Restricting access to ESOL and other FE provision for
asylum seekers is inconsistent with Government policy on integration,
community cohesion and citizenship. The Governments own policy document
Integration Matters recognises that although full integration may well not
start until the granting of refugee or similar status, the integration
process starts on arrival. There is widespread recognition that English
language is essential to integration.

Hashmat Ghezally trumpeted the benefits of free ESOL training: I came and
sought asylum to the UK on 15/02/00 with no word of English, on 16/02/00 I
went to an ESOl class in Dover, soon after three months I registered to
the local library and started to borrow books. He continues: It would be
interesting to calculate and find out how much money was spent on me for
attending ESOL classes and how much I have contributed as a part time and
full time tax payer since January 2001. If ESOL wasnt free, I wouldnt have
been able to afford to learn English.


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