Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cuts to ESOL funding - Ali Aksoy (HRF) speaks out

Ali Aksoy, Chair of Hackney Refugee Forum (HRF) writes about the cuts to ESOL funding – and why we need to fight them.
CUTS, CUTS, CUTS and now ESOL cuts and it will affect all of us very seriously.

We all know it is very difficult to integrate in to this society without speaking the host community’s language. Therefore ESOL education is an investment by the government to help migrant and refugees to improve their skills, find jobs, pay taxes instead of getting financial support from public funds as well as accessing the available services before their problems becoming chronic or expensive to solve.

ESOL education is not only good for increasing the chance to find employment for migrant and refugee students, it also means employment for hundreds of teachers and better communication with other communities. All this is very important for cohesion, seeing the importance of diversity and learning more. Sharing experiences with other communities helps avoid the racism created by ignorance.

Yes there will be free classes, but only for 20% of RASM communities who gets active unemployment allowances (dependants might have to pay). People without active allowance and low income can not have free classes and have to pay fees from between £550 to £1250. Teachers will lose jobs and learners to help their children.

The colleges will have bigger classes (now 17 students in a class), fewer choices of levels and less flexibility. They have to cut their ESOL provision 25% in next 4 years and less and lesser place will be available.

At the moment there is a £4.5million fund available to help ESOL students who pay fees, but next year there will be no support fund. That means fewer students from low income people, the closing of courses and more teachers will lose their jobs.

There is no harvest without invest and it is time to raise our voices for ESOL investment now before this cuts will harm all our communities.

The next Hackney Refugee Forum open meeting will be on Friday 18 March (1pm-3pm) at HCVS in Dalston. The topic will be ESOL cuts and the impact on employment and health and integration. For more info email ali@hcvs.org.uk

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