Rally over immigrant centres closing
The Irish Times
Last Updated: Friday, June 20, 2008, 21:47
Over 100 people have taken part in a protest in Dublin this afternoon over the planned closure of the States main language and integration centres for immigrants.
Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT), a non-profit Government-funded company that provides English language training to adult refugees and produces teaching materials for primary and secondary schools, is to close at the end of July with the loss of 44 jobs.
IILT has been providing language classes in nine centres throughout Ireland since 2000. In 2007, some 906 adults attended classes.
Many of those attending todays protest, which began outside Liberty Hall before proceeding to the Department of Education offices in Marlborough Street, voiced concerns over the future of immigrants attempting to create a life for themselves in Ireland.
The students attending IILT need good English to be able to access further education, training and jobs so that they can integrate better into society here. Most also require English in order to communicate successfully with officials, doctors, school teachers etc, said Ailish McCann, a literary teacher at the IILT.
Ms McCann said that in addition to providing language lessons to immigrants, the IILT also offered emotional support for many of its students.
Lola Tamakloe, who came to Ireland from Nigeria three years ago, said that she had been attending classes at the Dublin centre for the past 12 months and that they were helping her to find employment here.
If you cant speak English or write, how will you get a job?, said Ms Tamakloe. The course is helping me to survive I cant be waiting for the Government to take care of me and my children. When we arrive in this country many of us cant speak in English and some of us cannot write and the courses here have helped us to improve our English so that I can now look for work. I want the Government to allow us to continue to take the English lessons.
Malai Daoreerma from Thailand, who has been attending the school for the past three months, began taking English lessons after her marriage broke up.
I want the Government to save the school because I need to learn English and then I can get a good job and have a good life. I must learn because my husband took everything and so I ask please that we can keep the school, she said.
In addition to the Dublin protest, demonstrations have also recently been held at a number of other where IILT operated including in Castlebar and Galway.
The Department of Education has said it will take over teaching services to the almost 1,000 refugees and their families following the closure of the IILT centres. It said that it was informed of IILT's decision to cease providing direct English language tuition to adult refugees a week ago.
It added that the IILT had requested that the Department would bring into the mainstream the provision of services within the education system. This is something the Department said it was happy to do as it fits with the general approach of mainstreaming services for migrants.
In a statement issued this evening, the IILT confirmed it had approached the Department of Education and Science earlier this year with the proposal to withdraw from direct tuition.
Minister for Integration, Conor Lenihan, said the decision to put language provision on a “sustainable long-term footing” was timelyand appropriate, and “fully consistent” with the approach for service provision set out in his integration strategy and diversity management statement Migration Nation.
Mr Lenihan said there would be no loss of funding for such services, as it would be redirected to other service providers.
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13/06/2008: Language training centre for migrants to close | 13/06/2008