New Labour is cutting funding for adult education by 4 percent nationally – cuts that will cost thousands of jobs and courses.
As always the government wants the most vulnerable in our society to make up the shortfall, telling colleges to raise their fees by up to 50 percent in the next two years.
Further education (FE) plays a crucial role in giving millions of young adults a second chance.
FE colleges now teach more 16–18 year olds than secondary schools, and 4.5 million people attend courses across the country.
These cuts represent a further move by the government to drive FE even more firmly into the hands of business and to slash non-essential, “non-economic” adult education classes.
Very important literacy, numeracy, IT and English for Speakers of Other Languages courses are now facing closure.
In Lambeth college, south London, where management want to cut spending by £2.5 million costing 60 jobs and many courses, the Natfhe union branch has voted to ballot for strike action.
It has also set up a joint union action committee, including the student union.
In City and Islington College (CIC), north London, 80 staff from two Natfhe branches decided to launch a community campaign against the cuts.
We will be holding hustings with local council candidates to find out where they stand on these issues.
Natfhe London region is also supporting mayor Ken Livingstone’s bid to take over the five London skills council bodies in order to merge them – allowing coordination between FE colleges across the capital.
We need to make sure that a national campaign is launched immediately, mobilising communities that are affected by these cuts.
We also need to lay the basis for industrial action.
Adult education week is 22–29 May and Tony Benn has agreed to speak at a rally at Finsbury Park site as part of a week of action against the cuts.