Socialist Worker

Hundreds rally to defend Esol

by Patrick Ward
Issue No. 2257

On the march in south London against Esol cuts  (Pic: Smallman )

On the march in south London against Esol cuts (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Hundreds marched and rallied to defend English for speakers of other languages (Esol) courses in east and south London last Sunday.

The Esolfest in Bethnal Green Gardens, east London, united teachers, students and campaigners against government plans to slash funding for Esol courses.

Two feeder marches joined the festival, from Hackney and Stepney Green.

Many children also attended, having their faces painted and playing games on the grass.

Sahar is an Esol student from Sudan who came to Britain a year ago. “Esol helped me understand the culture here, and also how to improve my English,” she said.

“Now I have voluntary work. Without Esol I couldn’t do that.”

Amy Jowett, a member of the UCU lecturers’ union at Tower Hamlets College, called the Esol cuts “unforgivable”.

“Esol isn’t only about learning English, it is about integration,” she told Socialist Worker. “It’s about knowing how to talk with the doctor, these sorts of things.

“David Cameron makes racist speeches demanding people integrate, but then he cuts Esol.”

Akvol, who arrived in Britain from Sudan recently, told Socialist Worker how it would also be her children’s education which would suffer.

“When I talk to my children’s teachers, I need to know English,” she said. “When they have homework, I want to be able to help them.

But I also need English to talk to my GP if we get sick, and to find a job—I want to be able to work.”

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Tue 21 Jun 2011, 18:00 BST
Issue No. 2257
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