'The opportunity for speakers of other languages to learn English is a vital part of integration in today's society' London's Green MEP Jean Lambert urged today as she met with a representative from the Learning and Skills Council and the Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Council to discuss the worryingly, depleting funds for ESOL.
Jean, who for many years has worked closely with asylum seekers and refugees who often need assistance to learn English as a second language, commented; "We often hear the British Government highlight the importance of the English language as a kind of social glue which has the potential to bind our society together and help address problems arising from segregation and the media frequently highlights the need for migrants to learn English.
"It is of course crucial that cultural, ethnic and religious difference is respected and such rights are vigorously defended - especially when they are under threat as they are now. There can be no doubt that a knowledge of English can only be an advantage to anyone living in the UK. It is a means of empowerment, participation and ultimately access to work.
"The Government's plans to reduce ESOL funding is contradictory and
pernicious and will make like much more difficult for asylum seekers, refugees
and migrant workers. It simply undermines attempts to make our society more
inclusive and fair - something this Government profess to want."
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Notes to editors:
Jean Lambert: In October 2005 Jean was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections. She was re-elected in 2004. She is one of nine MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament.