THOUSANDS of non-English speaking students are to be left without language support services after the Department of Education cut funding for Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT) and its outreach services.
The organisation, which offers support to pupils in 4,500 schools is to close on July 31 with the loss of 42 jobs between its head office in Ballsbridge and its outreach centres.
“We have no idea where these essential services are going to come from now,” said Chris Rowland, the union’s education branch organiser.
She described the cutback as outrageous, given that only last year Minister Conor Lenihan launched a language policy campaign for immigrants to promote integration.
“IILT provides much-needed English language training for adults and support to English language training provided for adult asylum seekers by the VEC and other agencies.
“It also provides support for teachers in primary and post-primary schools responsible for the English language development of non-English speaking pupils,” she said.
She said a review is due out shortly on training provisions and the language needs of non-English speakers, as part of Mr Lenihan’s language policy campaign.
“A cut in IILT funding ... means the closure of a vital service needed for the successful integration of non-English speakers into our community.”
Ms Rowland described how 200 students at the headquarters in Ballsbridge were told to go home when the department announced the cut in funding.
“No one discussed this plan with staff before they were told this morning that the IILT will close,” she said.
“SIPTU is seeking an urgent meeting with the Department of Education to have funding restored.”
The Department of Education said IILT had informed it that it was stopping direct English language tuition and had requested the department mainstream the activity within the education system.
“Following the withdrawal of IILT ... the department has decided to redirect the funding for these activities to other providers.”
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