BUDDING Rotherham politican Chloe Shaw has joined calls for the Government to think again over the scrapping of cash help for the poorest students.
Chloe is one of the protesters who have signed Rotherham MP Denis MacShane’s open letter to the Government opposing the end of the educational maintenance allowance.
The means-tested weekly payments of up to £30—paid to thousands of students across the borough—cover books, travel and equipment costs.
But the policy looks set to be axed next year following the comprehensive spending review.
The letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove claims that this would threaten the future of the most underprivileged youngsters.
Thomas Rotherham College student Chloe (16) said: “Without the support of the EMA, lots of young people from poorer backgrounds simply won’t have the choices that others get.
“At the moment, the money covers your travel costs if you want to attend a college that offers the course you want, even if it’s further away from your home.
“Without the EMA, underprivileged young people might have to just go to their nearest college because it’s cheaper to get there, even if this stops them pursuing the career they want to.
“Twenty or £30 a week might not seem like a lot to some, but for lots of young people in Rotherham it means being able to afford to travel, buy books and study materials or being able to focus on their education instead of making ends meet.
Dr MacShane said: “The message coming from our local young people is loud and clear. The Coalition’s plans for education funding are robbing thousands of our young people of their futures.” More than 3,600 Dearne Valley College students have benefited from the EMA in the past four years.
A spokeswoman said: “The Government proposal to abolish EMA payments from September 2011 could have a significant impact on the number of young people who progress from Year 11 into further education.
“It could also have a detrimental effect on the number of young people who complete their course, as we find that EMA money is often relied upon to support them with their studies.
“The success rates of young people who receive EMA is seven per cent higher than those who do not receive EMA.”
The college will continue to pay eligible students on current programmes until the end of the academic year, and those who enrol on a full-time course before January.
Rotherham charity the Morthyng Group will use its own reserves to pay its students an EMA-equivalent.