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The campaign to save the education maintenance allowance (EMA)

January 17, 2011

Students, staff and trade unions are uniting for two days of action this week as part of their campaign to save the education maintenance allowance (EMA). This action will precede an opposition day debate in parliament on Wednesday 19 January when parliament will debate and vote on the abolition of the EMA.

On Tuesday 18 January, colleges and sixth-forms around the country will be holding lunchtime demonstrations and on Wednesday 19 January there will be lobby in the House of Commons from 1pm to 4pm. Following the lobby on Wednesday, MPs will vote on a motion that calls on the government to rethink its plans to scrap the financial support. More details on the protests will be posted on www.emacampaign.org.uk and www.saveema.co.uk as they become known.

Studies show that the EMA is a key factor in improving participation in further education and colleges in some of the most deprived areas of the UK will be the hardest hit if the government breaks its pre-election promise and scraps the EMA. In some areas of Birmingham, Leicester and the north-west as many as four-fifths of students receive the EMA.

The recent Education at a Glance report, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that the UK has one of the worst participation rates for 15-19 year-olds in education.

The protests and lobby are being organised by the National Union of Students (NUS), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), the University and College Union (UCU), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), UNISON, Unite, the GMB and the Save EMA campaign.

Before the election, as part of the election campaign, Michael Gove protested that “Ed Balls keeps saying that we are committed to scrapping EMA. I have never said this. We won’t” and David Cameron made it clear that the Tory party “don’t have any plans to get rid of [the EMA]” and complained that “it’s one of those things that the Labour Party keeping putting out that we are [going to cut] but we’re not”.

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