Lo welcomes Minister’s refugee English lessons move

Alliance MLA Anna Lo has welcomed an announcement by a Stormont Minister to offer free English lessons to refugees.

Alliance Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry announced the plans following the arrival of the first group of Syrian refugees to Northern Ireland last month. He said the language classes would help people settling here to integrate into society.

“Many of the refugees in Northern Ireland already have good qualifications and skills obtained in their homeland,” said South Belfast MLA Ms Lo.

“It is only the language barrier that prevents them from not only integrating locally but also contributing to society, as they want to use their expertise in various areas.

“Currently, only asylum seekers are entitled to free English lessons, so it makes sense those who become refugees also get help with improving their language skills. This will enable them to get into higher-value employment rather than low-paid manual jobs.

“This scheme will ensure no-one who comes to our country is disadvantaged because they are a refugee and that is to be welcomed.”

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