UK: Colleges face migrant English lesson funding scraps

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Jan 5 16:20:04 UTC 2008

Colleges face migrant English lesson funding scraps
Friday, 04 Jan 2008

The government will focus its English-language funding on areas where
improvements in "community cohesion" are required most, it has
announced.  Ministers were forced to halt free English for Speakers of
Other Languages (ESOL) classes last year after a sharp upturn in
demand placed strain on college intakes. In London mayor Ken
Livingstone was forced to allocate £15 million to make up the
shortfall as a result. Now the Department for Innovation, Universities
and Skills is proposing prioritising future funding on areas which
need the biggest improvements in integration.

Councils will be required to justify their requests for ESOL funding
while businesses and the voluntary sector are also being asked to fill
the gap where appropriate.  Skills secretary John Denham said good
English language skills have a "vital role to play" in encouraging
"community cohesion and integration". "We must ensure that the
priority is to reach long-term residents for whom poor English is a
real barrier to integration in work or in the community," he said.

Some have questioned the government's commitment to providing
translated materials after it announced last month it would seek to
limit the provision of translations of official documents.  The move
received criticism but was defended as a "commonsense approach" to the
problem as a bid to encourage new immigrants to learn English by the
government today. Immigration minister Liam Byrne said: "It is vital
that those we welcome into the UK to work and settle here play by the
rules, learn English and use our language.

"People who want to come to the UK permanently, or as highly skilled
workers are required to speak English. Now we want to go further and
insist that anyone coming to Britain to work speaks English."$483826.htm
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