Sheffield Saves ESOL Campaign

Adult Learners in Burngreave
Adult Learners in Burngreave

Government plans will cut English language classes in the city by 40 percent.

A campaign has been launched to fight government plans to cut funding for English language courses for the most vulnerable people in the city.

The government plans to cut funding to the English Speakers of Other Languages, (ESOL) courses in August this year.

The ESOL courses are currently free of charge to any members of the community. From August it will only be free to people who are claiming benefits.

“These cuts will hit the most vulnerable people in our community. The Government has made a commitment to build community cohesion and this will exclude and isolate many people in this area.

“Mothers will have to find money for childcare and the course fee to learn English. Asylum seekers can’t get benefits and will have to find money to pay to learn English.

“The low paid workers from Eastern Europe that this country relies on will have to pay to learn English. All these people don’t have the money to pay. They will be isolated from every part of British life,” said Ahmed Gurnah.

Community Support

Sheffield Saves ESOL Campaign has been set up at a meeting organised by the Burngreave Adult Learners Working Group. The campaign is being launched with support from 12 community groups and 10 other professionals working in adult education.

Plans are to raise awareness across the city, link with all the agencies concerned about these cuts and organise a public demonstration in the city.

“We are appalled that our government would do this, and this might only be the start. If this goes unchallenged, what other cuts are going to be made to education for adults, what other sorts of segregation is going to be caused by cuts and what type of society will we end up with? The only conclusion you can come to is that this policy is designed to discourage asylum seekers” said Sue Taylor from Workers’ Educational Association.

Danger of cuts to 40% of ESOL classes

A Sheffield College spokeswoman said:

“We have had a look at the figures and there 1600 people in Sheffield Collage that study ESOL. Sheffield Collage me be forced to cancel 40% of the ESOL classes. We estimate that 640 of these people will have to stop when these cuts come in.”

Satish Satchdeva from Sheffield Positive Action Training Consortium said

“These 640 people will be turned away. Why? Because when the government wants to save money they pick on the most vulnerable. These 640 people will be denied not only the ability to learn English but the ability to integrate into our community.”

Abtisam Mohamed from the Yemeni Community Centre said:

“We have a constitution to help the most vulnerable and needy in our community. After August we will have to turn these people away, what will I say to them? We have learners who are making real progress working hard to learn English and build new lives here and I have to tell them ‘we can’t help you any more!’. We work with the whole community we don’t distinguish between asylum seekers, refugees or people with a right to remain, we just help them.”

Ahmed Gurnah said: “We want people to join us. We are holding a public meeting on the 13th March at SADACCA at 7.00pm and we are planning a coach to go to London to join the national campaign on Wednesday the 28th February.”

For any further information contact, Ahmed Gurnah on:- 0114 2794961 Or evening Tony Tingle on:- 0114 2555791

ESOL Campaign on “The Learning Curve”

You might also like listen to a discussion about the ESOL cuts on “The Learning Curve”, a Radio 4 programme presented by Libby Purves. Go to the BBC Radio 4 website to “listen again” – it was first broadcast on Monday 19th February.

More information: BBC Radio 4: The Learning Curve ENGLISH FOR SPEAKERS OF OTHER LANGUAGES With the government's new keenness for social integration, and for people from all the different ethnic groups in Britain to speak good English, we discuss why they are also planning to reduce eligibility for free English language courses. A massive campaign against the changes is building, with a huge lobby of parliament planned for next week, and an Early Day Motion with more than 150 MPs signatures. To expand upon this Libby is joined by Bill Rammell: minister for lifelong learning, further and higher education, Roger Kline: head of equality and employment rights at UCU (the University and College Union) and Beatrice Jackson, who's been working in the area for more than 30 years.

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