Section 11 funding is mainly used to teach English as a second language in schools. The prime minister announced that previous plans, which would have led to significant cuts, would not stand.
Mr O'Brien said:
'This government inherited spending plans for section 11 which would have seen the fund drop substantially in 1998/9, and in future years.
'This is a significant step in fulfilling the government's policy of creating a one-nation Britain. We want a nation where everybody has the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Language is their most fundamental requirement.
'Thousands of teachers' jobs and other educational provision will also be safeguarded.
'This announcement is a key statement of the government's commitment to equal opportunities for everyone, particularly those people for whom poor English will no longer be a barrier to a better future.'