Over 1000 people demonstrated in Hackney in opposition to proposed cuts in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses on April 27th, with marches from Islington, Tower Hamlets and Hackney boroughs converging outside Hackney Town Hall.
The government last year cut funding for adult education courses by 3%, with the effect that ESOL courses for over-19s will no longer be free. This despite the fact that they are withdrawing benefit rights for those immigrants who do not speak English.
The Education Minister Bill Rammell has commented that the current funding set up is “unsustainable” given that demand has tripled since the last shake-up. The government claims that the solution is to cut back migrant workers’ right to learn English.
At the Saturday afternoon rally in Hackney, there were no few murmurs in the crowd as the principal of City and Islington college got up to speak, given that the administration of that college have recently put through cuts in courses and jobs. Other speakers included Paul Mackney — joint general secretary of lecturers’ union UCU – and Jeremy Corbyn MP.