From education to employment

Ex-Gurkhas encouraged to integrate through learning

Former Gurkhas are to be given help to access English language speaking courses in order to help them integrate and settle in the UK.

The Gurkha Resettlement Education and Adult Learning Project, which is being funded by the European Integration Fund, are encouraging ex-Gurkha soldiers, their spouses and their families to take part in the project.

The integration project comes just over a year all Gurkhas were given the right to settle in Britain.

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), which encourages adults to engage in adult learning,  is managing the project.

NIACE will work with Greenwich Community College, Barnet College, Coleg Powys, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) and the Gurkha Welfare Trust.

Marina Koniotou, NIACE’s project officer said: ” Gurkha soldiers currently attend language courses; however their families, particularly spouses, are less likely to access English for Speaking of Other Languages (ESOL) courses and are isolated from their wider communities.

“Over the next 3 years this project will engage Gurkha spouses and the families and retired Gurkhas to improve their English language levels and ensure that they are better equipped to integrate into main stream society.”

Gurkha communities have welcomed the new language integration project and shown high levels of interest.

Gerry Armstrong, divisional secretary at SSAFA said: “Interest levels from Gurkhas about the new ESOL provision is growing daily.

“We must focus primarily on the special needs of an increasing number of newly arriving Gurkhas’ that have had no exposure to the English language. They are much older, have major health and social support needs and will find integration very difficult unless they are able to speak some every day English.”

As well as the project, a seminar will take place in November in order to draw together all providers, agencies and voluntary sector organisations working with Gurkhas.

The seminar will contribute to a national strategy for Gurkha resettlement and adult learning in the UK.

Mark Astley

Related Articles