Socialist Worker

Defending adult education at the Bethnal Green Centre

by Roberto Foth
Issue No. 2104

Adult education courses at the Bethnal Green Centre in east London are under threat. The director of children’s services at Tower Hamlets council recently confirmed that there were plans for the building to be “disposed of” after a two-year period.

Students, staff and the wider local public became suspicious back in March when preparations were being made to move some courses to other centres and terminate others altogether.

At a public meeting at the centre earlier this year, the council confirmed that the centre had been earmarked to accommodate local school pupils from the Bethnal Green Technology College during a two-year refurbishment programme, displacing adult day classes in the process.

The council’s plans were sprung upon students, staff and local residents – and duly met with vociferous criticism.

They have sparked a campaign to save Bethnal Green Centre, involving meetings, petitions and a 200 strong march to bring the issue to the attention of the wider public.

Tower Hamlets council is now backtracking in the face of public opposition, denying that there are any plans to sell the centre. But the campaign is continuing to press for guarantees that the centre will remain devoted to adult education beyond 2011.

Representations will be made to the full council meeting on 25 June, and support from campaign activists and sympathisers will be welcome.

Bethnal Green Centre has been an adult education centre since after the First World War. Its contribution is much appreciated by people in the area, particularly in courses such as woodwork, jewellery, ceramics and mechanics.

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Article information

Tue 3 Jun 2008, 18:18 BST
Issue No. 2104
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