Demonstration 24 March
This is the latest in a series of attacks to the already limited services that migrants and asylum seekers can access, and part of the wider attack on education, jobs and public services.
As the Government proposes cuts to English classes, ESOL teachers and students have declared 24th March to be a Day of Action
to protest against the Government’s policies on ESOL. There will rallies, marches and events all over England.
In Newcastle, a march, co-ordinated by Tyneside Community Action Against Racism, will take place at 4.30pm on Thursday 24th March, beginning at the Centre for Life, near central station, city centre, and ending with a rally at the Monument. The march is on the same day as strikes by college and University lecturers in protest at education cuts.
More information about the cuts;
Currently, ESOL classes are free to students in receipt of a range of
benefits, including Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax
Credits, Housing Benefit, or Council Tax Benefit. But from September
2011, only those getting JSA and some receiving the new Employment Support Allowance, will be entitled to free classes.
National surveys show that over 50% of students and in some areas as many
as over 70% currently studying on free courses will be expected to pay
because they will not fall within the new rules. This includes people in
low waged employment, spouses of people receiving benefit and asylum
Funding for ESOL programmes has been cut by 50% over the last three years.
The cost of classes is expected to rise to around £900 a year.
Campaigners warn that this will price many students out of learning
Campaigners have argued that these new measures discriminate in particular
against women, who make up over half of current ESOL students. They argue
further that it will make it more difficult for those who don’t speak
English as their first language to find sustainable employment, access
services, support their children in schools or to participate in society.
They point out that migrants bring important skills and experience to
the UK and are keen to contribute to society.