Minister criticised after refusing free Welsh lessons for refugees

Eluned Morgan. Picture by the National Assembly. (CC BY 2.0)

A Welsh Government Minister has come under fire from campaigners after announcing that she would not support free Welsh lessons for refugees and asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers are prevented from working, and live on £5.39 a day from the UK Government, so they are not able to pay for lessons. As a result, the Welsh Government funds free English lessons for refugees and asylum seekers, but they do not give the same right to free Welsh lessons.

In a recent response to a letter from campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Eluned Morgan, Minister for the Welsh language, says that she does not want to provide free Welsh lessons for refugees because: “We do not want the system [of Welsh language lesson fees] to discriminate between any specific groups of learners.”

In the same letter, the Minister also refuses to start drafting a policy to extend the language to migrants, an idea also proposed by the campaigners.

Responding to the Minister’s statement, Tamsin Davies from Cymdeithas yr Iaith said: “We’re extremely disappointed that the Minister has made this reactionary statement which contributes to the exclusion of some groups from the Welsh language, even while she claims to be treating everyone the same.

“Indeed, we condemn the Minister’s ignorance. It doesn’t seem that she’s aware of the fact that asylum seekers are prevented from working, or of the other barriers refugees and asylum seekers face in trying to get access to education courses.

“The Government’s laudable plan to make Wales a Nation of Sanctuary includes a commitment to ‘ensure refugees and asylum seekers are included in opportunities to learn the Welsh language.’. However, it isn’t clear what steps have been taken to achieve this aim.

“English lessons for these groups are free, so there’s no question that Welsh lessons should be free as well.

“Refugees who have learnt the language inspire people across the country and give everyone confidence to use the Welsh they have. This is an important way of including refugees in our society and realising the vision of making Wales a nation of sanctuary.”

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Charles L. GallagherSibrydionmawrAnglo WelshRhosdduBill Phillips Recent comment authors
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Bill Phillips
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Bill Phillips

As someone that is trying to learn Welsh, this is so disappointing. Even at my level it’s opening so many doors to understanding and enjoying the unique Welsh culture. Anyone know of a crowdfunding campaign aimed at helping refugees learning the language whilst they are not funded.

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

This is a terrible decision; Welsh is an official language of this country, and the discrimination here is not only against the asylum seekers (who will be denied an opportunity to pursue a career in which competence in Welsh would be useful) but also against the Welsh language itself. One of the benefits to Wales of offering free Welsh lessons in this particular case is that it would have helped to impress upon newly-arrived asylum seekers that they have moved to Wales and not to England, to prompt them to engage fully in Welsh culture and society, to strengthen the… Read more »

Sibrydionmawr
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Sibrydionmawr

I couldn’t agree more. When I read the article in the e-mail I wasn’t surprised to see Baroness Morgan of Ely’s dabs all over it. Never more than lukewarm, (or tepid, whichever is the cooler) towards the speakers of the national language, it perhaps should come as no surprise that this decision was taken.

This decision, no doubt endorsed by Welsh Labour’s leadership is truly shameful.

Anglo Welsh
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Anglo Welsh

Without knowing the reasons behind this decision it’s difficult to comment. However, I do agree with Eluned Morgan’s decision by the fact that many asylum seekers will in fact struggle to learn English and offering Welsh language lessons will overburden many of them and cause confusion. Undoubtedly their children will learn Welsh in school and they will pick up Welsh at a later date.

Sibrydionmawr
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Sibrydionmawr

What a load of tosh! What you have said is also grossly insulting to those people who are seeking sanctuary here, as if they suffer from some kind of handicap that prevents them from learning two languages. Eluned Morgan’s decision is nothing other than yet another attack by Labour on Cymraeg. Not only are they guilty of kicking the whole issue into the long grass with their ‘plan’ for there to be a million speakers by 2050, a plan that even if it were serious would be highly unambitious they are now through some kind of cack-handed explanation undermining the… Read more »

Charles L. Gallagher
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Charles L. Gallagher

You’ve got to do what your English masters tell you until you decide to get rid of them.

Charles L. Gallagher
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Charles L. Gallagher

You’ve got to do what your English subjugators say until you decide to get rid and soon we in Scotland hope.