The Department for the Economy currently funds the delivery of ESOL Formal Language Training through its network of 6 local further education (FE) colleges in Northern Ireland. This provision is free to all asylum seekers, refugees and those granted humanitarian protection. Migrant workers from the EU and elsewhere are required to pay a fee contribution towards the costs of courses. Voluntary and community organisations also deliver mainly informal English classes to speakers of other languages settled in Northern Ireland including economic migrants, international students, refugees and asylum seekers within the community setting.
The Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) in Northern Ireland helped re-enforcing the need for this central ESOL co-ordination and collaboration between FE Colleges, community & voluntary sector and relevant statutory agencies. The opportunity presented by the Home Office of funding an ESOL VPRS regional coordination post means a step forward in relation to a potential ESOL Strategy for NI.
The role of the ESOL NI Regional Co-ordination point is to:
· Ensure availability of quality provision throughout Northern Ireland – Mapping and ensuring accessibility of quality provision throughout Northern Ireland by co-ordinating a consistent teaching approach, good governance mechanisms and appropriate infrastructure provision.
· Co-ordinating delivery between community based provision and college based provision, including progression from Pre-entry level English classes to accredited provision at Entry Level 1 and above.