Socialist Worker

Tories back off Esol cuts

by Naina Kent and Mandy Brown, London Action for Esol (pc)
Issue No. 2268

The government has reversed its decision to make cuts to English language teaching (Esol).

The cuts would have excluded up to 75 percent of adults on so-called “inactive” benefits.

This attack represented a huge threat to adult and further education. It would hit some of the poorest students in inner cities, mainly from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The cuts especially afffect women who desperately want to learn English to support their children, find work and access education.

Most of the 250,000 adult places that were at risk this year can be saved. This is an important victory for the Action for Esol campaign.

Colleges across Britain held Esol teach-ins and demonstrations.

Exposed

These gave Esol students a voice. They exposed the hypocrisy of making some of the poorest in society pay for a crisis not of their making, while decrying them for “not integrating”.

In London over 500 Esol students and teachers participated in a teach-out near parliament. They then marched to Downing Street to hand in a 20,000 strong Save Esol petition.

Colleges across Britain have already begun to contact students who were turned away.

They are asking them to come back and enrol for classes this year and refunding students who were charged fees.

Some Esol teachers who had been made redundant have been reinstated.

The reprieve is only for one year and the campaign still needs to fight on.

Nonetheless, it shows how working together as teachers and students, in alliance with other educational, trade union and social organisations, can make a difference.

The campaign included parliamentary lobbying by MPs, the National Institute of Adult and Community Education, the principals’ association, Refugee Council and the University and College Union.

Its success should be a welcome boost to everyone concerned with educational opportunity.

They include those seeking to defend community learning, access and adult education, and the campaign to restore the Education Maintenance Allowance.

It signals how we can address the frustration and inequality that many young people feel, which in turn fuelled the recent riots.


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News
Tue 6 Sep 2011, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2268
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