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 Education, education, education: students protest outisde the Tottenham campus of the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London over Government cuts which put adult learner courses at risk

 Education, education, education: students protest outisde the Tottenham campus of the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London over Government cuts which put adult learner courses at risk

12:56pm Wednesday 28th April 2010

by Elizabeth Pears

STUDENTS fought to protect their education with a demonstration yesterday outside a Tottenham college suffering a £2.5million budget cut that has put staff jobs and courses for adult learners at risk.

Hundred of lecturers and learners blocked the entrance to the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (Conel) to send a direct message to the Government, college bosses and higher education minister David Lammy who is hoping to be re-elected on May 6.

The massive Government cut to funding has put 29 jobs at risk and could mean courses such as teaching English as a second language, literacy and supported learning for students including those with autism.

English student Marcelin Mawanam 23, said: “The students are hear to tell the Government and the leaders of this college not to put our education in jeopardy because we desperately need it.

“Without an education, we have nothing. You will not be hired if you do not have literacy skills, it is as simple as that.”

Esol teacher Dean Colvin, whose job is at risk, said: “This is a very insecure time for me and my family, and I feel very bitter about being put in this position.

“For the students, this is devastating. Pupils who are learning English need all the support they can get, and not having this support could seriously hinder their integration in the wider community. In Tottenham, where there is a high demand for Esol, any cuts would be a huge loss.

“The people that run this college might claim to be passionate about education, but they are simply trying to run a successful business, and that’s not what this should be about.”

In 2008, an Ofsted inspection praised the college for its “outstanding” work in improving access for second language speakers to other courses and employment.

Members from the University and College Union (UCU) claim the college could plug the shortfall completely by digging into “several million pounds” of cash reserves.

Lecturer Jenny Sutton, UCU branch secretary for Tottenham, said: “These Government cuts have left college bosses with little room for manoeuvre, but there is some room. We are here to send a message today that we must protect education, even if that means using reserves to save courses and jobs.

“It seems like a very bad joke that Tottenham MP David Lammy, who is also the minister for higher education, is not fighting for our students. In fact, when I asked him for help his response was ‘there’s nothing I can do’.”

The college’s principal and chief executive, Paul Head, has refused to confirm how many jobs would be lost, how much money the college had in its reserves or which specific courses would be cut, but stressed his commitment to providing the “finest education” possible.

Mr Head said: “While I have striven to minimise the effects on our staff we will have to bear some job losses, as will further colleges across the country, due to changing priorities.

“I need to take the long term view for the benefit of our learners, the majority of our staff and our wider community, to ensure the college continues to raise aspirations and gives the finest education and training possible for decades to come.”

UCU members have announced plans to strike over the cuts on the eve of the General Election.

Source:  http://www.haringeyindependent.co.uk/news/8124816.Students_fight_for_their_right_to_education/



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