By Paula Martinez
Recently this month, Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has launched a $28.6 million program in order to teach English to female immigrants. While the lessons are for all immigrant women, Cameron has particularly targeted Muslim women. His administration has stated that around 240,000 female Muslim immigrants speak little to no English. Cameron states that this is because “some of these people have come to our country [from] quite patriarchal societies, perhaps the menfolk haven’t wanted them to learn English, haven’t wanted them to integrate,” meaning that it’s most likely the men of their society restricting them from learning.
The Prime Minister also explained why this is a good idea, declaring that learning English would be a step in preventing radicalization and extremist attacks. Cameron stated, “if you are not able to speak English, not able to integrate, you may find therefore you have challenges understanding what your identity is and [that] you could be more susceptible to the extremist message.” He added that poor English skills can leave Muslim women and their children “more susceptible” to the messages of groups like Islamic State.
However, this program has a cost. If, after two and a half years, the spouse can not speak English at a “sufficient level”, they will be deported, regardless if they have children born in the United Kingdom. Cameron reasoned that this is because “people coming to our country, they have responsibilities too.”
Many people have criticized David Cameron for this program. Opponents of the policy accuse Cameron of being contradicting because he cut English lessons for migrants back in 2011. Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association in Colleges, stated that the $20 million would not cover the $160 million lost in cuts. Many also question the link to counter-terrorism pointing out Muslim people who know English still face Islamaphobia. Nevertheless, the program is set to begin in October.