IELTS: Should English proficiency tests be cancelled or reviewed? Nigerians react

REACTING to a report published by The ICIR on Friday, Nigerians have faulted the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for being “exploitative” and “unfairly burdensome”.

The report had identified certain odd qualities about the IELTS, an English proficiency test jointly managed by the British Council, IDP Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. The test is often written by non-native English speakers seeking to migrate to or study in countries where English is the main language.

Nigerians are required to write the test to gain admission into universities or obtain a visa to European countries even though they are from a country where English is both the official language and medium of instruction in schools. IELTS has, however, been more difficult to pass than a simple measure of comprehension and speaking skills, even for native speakers of English.

    The tests are also expensive, with fees more than double the minimum wage in Nigeria; yet the test results are only valid for two years.

    Checks show that the UK government’s earning from conducting IELTS, N228 billion, is nearly 1700 per cent higher than the amount spent annually on beneficiaries of its Chevening Scholarship, estimated at N12.7 billion.

    Responding to a summary of The ICIR‘s findings shared on Twitter, some Nigerians criticised the IELTS and called for either its cancellation or modification. Others seized the opportunity to call attention to the poor standard of living in Nigeria, inadequate quality of education, and flaws of local examination bodies.

    Here are some of the comments:

    I think if the Nigerian government as a former British colony makes a strong case, they might review this requirement. If you look at it in perspective it means, “We don’t think your English is good enough”. A whole write-off of the entire educational system in Nigeria. @waecnigeria @Neconigeria, your credibility is at the heart of this. So with an A1 in English, Nigerians still need to prove their English proficiency? Are you setting exams of low international standards? — Henry Shaw @UBA_HQ
    @UKinNigeria @CanHCNigeria @NigeriaGov @nassnigeria this should be looked into. This is greatly unfair, immoral and extortionist practice. Kindly review this. — Kẹhínde Ọnayẹmi @onayemikehinde
    I do not know why they have to be testing my listening, speaking, writing and reading in English via an exam that expires in 2 years even as I was taught and examined all through in English language. It’s somewhat illogical and bias. #EndIELTSNow #IELTSinNigeria Jimoh Toheeb Aduramomi @toheebadura
    We need our government to fight this extortion. @MBuhari, I don’t understand why an English speaking nation will be writing a test of English proficiency to prove they actually understand English language. Same language certificate expires every 2 years. Haba! Not to talk of the cost. Can a step be taken beyond Twitter? This rip off must stop. Can we identify the appropriate government office that needs to address this abnormally? Olúwáṣeun Bukky @TheBukkyAfolabi

    Going by this stat, it shows the IELTS test is one of the instrumentalities of our former colonisers to keep the exploitative relationship. For obvious reasons, testing for English proficiency should not come with such financial and academic burden. Kayode Oyeniran @Kay_niran

    Sustained imperialism … Nigeria is an important English speaking country with nearly 200 [million] speakers. I don’t see much reason why our people will be subjected to unnecessary hassle. We should be concerned about how to empower WEAC or NECO to improve their examinations. Jimoh Salman @SJimoh
    This is how international aid works: UK Govt spends some £27m (N12.7bn) annually on 1,500. @cheveningfco beneficiaries but takes in more than 18 times more – about £487m or N228bn – from #IELTS alone in the same period. Sovereign compassion or terrific business? Chidi Odinkalu @ChidiOdinkalu
    Have you listened to some “graduates” speak? Talk less read their writing? IELTS needs to be made easier. The questions and grading system need to be reviewed. If you decide to emigrate, it’s only right that they test your ability to effectively communicate in their language. Anita @miss_aeo
    Not just IELTS, visa denials for most of these first world countries are a means of making money. Why keep the visa fee you have refused to issue? Why pay this much to prove I can speak English after obtaining a degree taught in English and still have to do so every two years? Scam Fadipe Olamide @FadipeOlamide4
    What if Nigerians just never took the exams. What would they do? Well, we need them is the mentality right? I don’t really think so, we are their most skilled labour force, and if they do ignore us, then: IRE by Adekunle Gold. Sode @ProfDML
    It’s always about the money, exploiting the desperation of people by telling them they are not good enough is the oldest way to get what you want from the poor and underprivileged. Colyns @colynsehys
    Africa is only relevant in the presumption of the west as enablers, and not as partners. But the real threat to Africa is the quality of leadership it keeps throwing up. We need thinkers with global exposure in leadership. Politicom @Politbru
    Nobody is forcing anybody to write though. Assuming Nigeria was doing well, they wouldn’t make so much money off Nigerians. Besides, Nigerians are not the only ones writing. Face your government!!! That’s where the problem is, not IELTS. #EndIELTSNow Daniel thee Lion @smeshial
    The whole so-called “English language proficiency test” for aspiring Nigerian travellers is a big-time official British fraud against Nigerians. Since English language is our official language in NGR, taught throughout our education system, there can be no justification for it. Tunji Adeyèmi @TJAdethink
    Why will I devote four of my prime years to studying ‘English Language’ without finishing at the bottom & you still ask me to write IELTS? Even if I write to defend that, why make me pay N75k? #EndIELTSinNigeria Temitayo Ayetoto @Temietayur
    This is what happens when custodians of our educational system are bereft of ideas & dont know their job. Why pay such ridiculous fees when we learn in same English, often times, better! Visa fees, IELTS, different words, same con #ENDIELTSNOW Dr Emmanuel Adukwu @EmmanuelAdukwu

    'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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