NIGERIA’S Twittersphere has been set abuzz as netizens question why Nigerians should take the English proficiency tests, also known as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
An online petition initiated by Policy Shapers, an open-source policy platform calling for reforms to the policy of foreign institutions asking for English proficiency tests, generated the buzz with different reactions from Nigerians on Twitter.
The petition, which has been signed by over 35,000 people as of 01:50 pm on January 26, is addressed to Secretary of the UK Home Office Priti Patel.
Many foreign universities abroad demand the IELTS as a requirement for admitting international students.
While the IELTS tests are expensive, and fees more than double the minimum wage in Nigeria, the test results are valid only for two years.
The average cost of taking the IELTS test in Nigeria ranges from N83,000($200.5) for academic and general tests to N89,500 ($216.2) for UK visas and immigration tests.
In comparison, the French DELF & DALF proficiency tests for non-native speakers cost N16,000($38.55) and N19,000($45.7), but the certificate is valid for life.
Of the 27 Anglophone countries in Africa who list English as one of their official languages, the UK Home Office did not exempt any from taking the test.
However, the UK Home Office exempted citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and 10 other countries from taking the test.
The #ReformIELTSPolicy campaign on Twitter, also initiated by Policy Shapers, received the endorsement of the Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo, who also believes that Nigerians deserve an exemption from the test as former British colonies.
The endorsement was received during an engagement with 2021 Mandela Washington Fellows and US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.
The ICIR collated the divergent tweets of Nigerians on the issue. Below are the tweets.
IELTS is pure extortion.— General Okwulu Okalisia (@RapidMax01) January 26, 2022
Nigeria with English as its lingua Franca should not be mandated to write IELTS before working or schooling in the U.K.
it makes no sense at all.
I took up a job in the UK and I didn’t have communication issues even without IELTS#ReformIELTSPolicy
Nigerians are gradually seeing through the sham called IELTS.— Uncle Charles (@AkwariCharles) January 26, 2022
You can’t say you believe in Nigeria and support the exploitation of Nigerians.
Please, sign and share the petition.
We can’t be OK with this status quo. It is a rip off and we need to fight it.#ReformIELTSPolicy
Dear UK Home Office, respond to the thesis in #ReformIELTSPolicy.— Diary of an African Blogger (@EfioItaNyok) January 26, 2022
You can't colonise us, neocolonise us so much so that English is our official language which we use from home to post-graduate levels and still ask us to sit for IELTS before gaining entrance to study in the UK
Dear UK Home Office, i think your drive for ielts for Nigerians is more of financial than testing for English proficiency. Nigerian Schools don't teach in another language other than English, from Kindergarten to PHD, so why should write an English test to school in UK? #IELTS— Emuobor E.S (@GracedUp1) January 26, 2022
So many misconceptions about IELTS. We’ve had this discussion several times in the last few years. My view has always been to increase the number of years the result lasts for. But this new discussion is about personal attacks and name calling, a tactic that achieves nothing.— Dr Dípò Awójídé (@OgbeniDipo) January 26, 2022
On the fees, nothing to say. But on the validity duration, DELF/DALF are certificates. That D is there for Diplôme, meaning it is a certificate. Your IELTS is a test, nothing more. And as such you need to take it again and again to show you are still having the same level.— 🔺Bill Toviwazon (@toviwazon) January 26, 2022
Dear Nurses, please *Don’t stop preparing for IELTS/OET because you heard some people are getting into UK without it to work as Nursing assistants or carers. Remember it’s just a plan B for you, so focus on plan A please.— 𝑵𝒖𝒓𝒔𝒆𝑴𝑱™️ (@proudnursemj) January 22, 2022
MJ; should I still write my IELTS?
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.