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Dalziel Speech: Adult ESOL Strategy launch

Lianne Dalziel Speech: Adult ESOL Strategy launch

Welcome to the launch of the Adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Strategy.

Although I am officially here tonight in my role as Associate Minister of Education, the launch of this strategy marks an especially important milestone for me in my other role as Minister of Immigration.

Many of you will know that I have been concerned for some time about the lack of a comprehensive approach to adult ESOL, particularly as it forms such an important component in the settlement of migrants and resettlement of refugees. We know that poor English is a barrier to employment and to settlement. That is why I initiated the development of an adult ESOL strategy, which has harmonised the New Zealand tertiary education strategy with immigration settlement policies.

There is a growing demand for adult ESOL, with census figures indicating that around 50,000 adults living in New Zealand do not speak English. On top of this, we estimate that another 200,000 adults from non-English speaking backgrounds in New Zealand do not have adequate levels of English language and literacy.

As you are probably aware, the development of this Strategy has involved an intensive consultation process. In August 2002, the government released the consultation document, Towards a Strategy for Adult ESOL provision in New Zealand, which highlighted issues with current provision, suggested a vision, and proposed some ideas around what would be needed in a strategy. Through talking with people around the country, we have identified that there is not enough adult ESOL provision to meet demand, and there are issues with the quality of provision and access to appropriate English learning opportunities. Although there are a number of adult ESOL programmes accessed by refugees and migrants, it is clear that the range of programmes available could be improved to deliver the best possible outcomes, both for individual learners, and for the government. The four key elements that make up the strategy are: better co-ordination and collaboration – the government (and especially education agencies) will take a more co-ordinated approach to adult ESOL. We will have well defined roles and responsibilities. We will also involve refugee and migrant communities more actively in both the planning and provision of ESOL and related services. enhancing access and affordability – this will involve improvements to information regarding adult ESOL, developments in assessment and referral processes, more fully subsidised provision for high priority learners, and more flexible and responsive programmes that meet the needs of a variety of learners. expanding provision and increasing quality – the focus here is on providing a clearer picture of the learning gains, and directing additional funding to providers that best meet the learning needs of priority learners. This will require an extension of quality assurance measures to all adult ESOL provision, some investment in capability (particularly for bilingual provision) and the development and adaptation of assessment and teaching and learning tools. ensuring that the diversity of learner needs are matched with appropriate provision – the needs of learners who require English language vary significantly, and it is therefore important that the strategy identifies and accommodates this diversity. In general, refugees have a higher level of need than migrants, thereby warranting different levels of intervention.

The goals set out in this strategy are ambitious, and in order to ensure that sustainable improvements are made, implementation will have to be staged, with strategies for short, medium and long-term improvements.

The government is making available $6.986 million over four years to start implementing some of the actions outlined in the strategy. This will begin to be rolled out from 1 July 2003. The initiatives are focused around improving quality, expanding provision and enhancing access through better matching of provision and learner needs.

The proposed initiatives are designed to assist in providing adult ESOL learners with strong learning foundations in New Zealand so that they can use existing skills to develop their English in order that they can participate in and contribute to our society.

I would like to close by quoting the vision for adult ESOL and that is: All New Zealand residents from non-English speaking backgrounds have opportunities to gain English language skills, for participation in all aspects of life in New Zealand, whether in the workplace, further education, family or the community. We have a challenging task ahead of us, and government is keen to play a key role in supporting adult ESOL – however, to achieve the vision, we need the support and contribution of refugee and migrant communities, tertiary ESOL providers and the Tertiary Education Commission acting in collaboration with other government agencies. In order to be successful, we need a strong partnership model. Today’s launch is not only the end of one process, but also the important beginning of another. As such it represents an important milestone in a continuum, which at its conclusion will enable us to reflect on the difference we have made to so many New Zealanders from a Non-English Speaking Background. Thank you for your contribution to the development of the strategy and your commitment to the journey we have ahead. At this point I would like to now formally hand over the strategy to the Hon Marian Hobbs, who as Associate Minister of Education, (Adult & Community Education) will be responsible for the implementation of the strategy. But first – the magic words: I officially declare the Adult ESOL Strategy launched. Thank you.

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