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It's right to target Esol funding for the most needy

Despite almost tripling the amount the Government invests in teaching English for speakers of other languages (Esol) (FE Focus, January 19), demand for the service continues to outstrip supply considerably.

In these circumstances, therefore, it is only right that we take tough decisions about who should continue to receive full fee remission for Esol and who should be asked to make a modest contribution to the cost of tuition.

Our conclusion is that we must target our resources on those who need them most. Not all adults who currently access free Esol tuition have the same need for public support.

Indeed, much of the uptake is for the purposes of increasing wages or meeting work requirements. In these circumstances - where the individual andor an employer benefits directly from the provision of Esol - it is reasonable to expect they should make a contribution.

Despite this, the Government will still pay two-thirds towards the cost of providing Esol for public and private sector workers.

That way we can concentrate resources on target groups of the most economically and socially marginalised communities in the UK, who will continue to get Esol for free.

Bill Rammell

Minister for further and higher education

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