From education to employment

Threat of Cuts in Adult Education Courses in Liverpool not Sweet, Sweet Music to Education

Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool has played host to many nights of soothing and sweet musical delight in the past, but tonight’s meeting will likely prove to be more of a call to action than a Salut D”Amour.

The University and College Union (UCU) will be just one among many gathering to protest the threat to adult education courses that is to take place tonight. They will join Louise Ellman MP, along with other politicians, tutors, students and training and learning providers speaking out against the cuts to these courses in Liverpool, which amount to a cut of £3 million. The evening meeting, entitled “Adult education – the future – planning the way forward”, seems certain to be an energetic forum of ideas.

Continuing Protest

The proposed cut backs in adult education support are a continuing bone of contention between the education unions and the Government focussed on providing support for skills that are tailored to meet the skills gaps in the economy. The UCU claim that this represents a “slash and burn” of Adult Education across the country, which threatens the jobs of many of their members.

The UCU continue to point out that this will not only be felt in Liverpool, and state that with the further cut in Adult Education in the coming year amounting to 4%, the real victims will be disadvantaged user groups, including the disabled. Women on low incomes may also feel the effects of this cutback, part of a longer term plan to reduce the subsidy for Adult Education to 50% by 2010. The effects of the 4% cut are likely, according to the Government, to result in the loss of 500,000 places on courses.

Speaking Out

The Head of Equality and Employment Rights at the UCU, Roger Kline, will address the assembled crowd tonight, and has commented: “The Governments approach to adult education across the country is slash-and-burn. It is misplaced and shameful. Virtually no one in education supports the plans to seriously cut funding for adult education.

“The policy undermines attempts to build a learning culture that has proven it can help many tens of thousands of adult learners develop confidence and skills,” he continued. “Many of the course cuts will affect some of the most disadvantaged members of our communities such as those with disabilities and women no low incomes. I hope to see dozens of local campaigns emerging against these cuts, like this one in Liverpool.”

Maire Daley, who is both a member of the UCU national executive and who works at Liverpool Community College, explained the stark choices facing colleges. She said: “Colleges like Liverpool have no choice but to cut courses because of the governments draconian funding measures. This is despite the Ofsted report which gave specific praise in relation to the effectiveness of the Colleges adult education provision.”

She pointed to the need for the courses to continue, and said: “The government have systematically failed to get the measure of the real value of adult education in places like Liverpool – it is not the criticised “holiday Spanish” or flower arranging that is being lost, but rather the lifeline for a second chance for thousands of adults to make a real difference to their employability and their quality of life.”

Jethro Marsh

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