IELTS: Nigerians Sign Petition To Stop English Test
Over 25,000 people have signed a petition on change.org to stop foreign institutions from demanding an English proficiency test, the International English Language Testing System, from Nigerians.
The petition, which was initiated by a youth-led open-source platform for policy ideas that address the world’s most pressing challenges called Policy Shapers, was addressed to the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, Priti Patel.
According to the think tank, no country in Africa, out of the 27 who list English as one of their official languages is on the Home Office list of countries exempted from taking the test.
Meanwhile, the UK Home Office has exempted Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and ten other countries from those who would require the test.
Many foreign universities, who are either in English speaking countries or have courses taught in the language, demand the IELTS as a requirement for admitting international students.
However, Policy Shapers argue that a test that costs more than three times the minimum wage and the result expires in two years, should not be required of Nigerians since the country is predominantly English speaking.
Founder of Policy Shapers, Ebenezar Wikina, stated that the campaign became necessary after observing that many Nigerians had lost opportunities because they could not afford the cost of the test despite having tertiary education in the English language.
He added, “While advocating for this as a team, we found that there were many more young Africans who felt strongly about the issue, so we set up a task force with over 70 volunteers and we have all been working to push the movement together. Everything came together organically. At the moment, our petition has over 25,000 signatures with more than 2,000 comments in support of this advocacy movement.”
The campaign has received the endorsement of the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who stated that Nigerians deserved benefits such as an exemption from the test as former British colonies while speaking at an engagement with 2021 Mandela Washington Fellows and US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.
Wikina, who contributed to making an American institution, Nexford University, change its English language admission requirement, stated that the campaign would go on as long as needed adding that it would benefit Nigerian students who wish to study abroad but have been faced with the hurdle of passing the IELTS.
“We are happy to keep this campaign going for as long as we live. It is the right thing to do and we owe it to our generation and our children’s generation.
“Seeing that we have been able to get the issue to the table of the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and he has assured us of his commitment to work on it, we believe change will come soon.
“A change in the policy would make life easier for Nigerian students who wish to study abroad or access opportunities because now the ultimate English proficiency barrier has been removed,” he stated.
While the UK Home Office is yet to respond to the think tank’s request for an explanation on why Nigeria is not exempted, Policy Shapers has increased the target of the petition to 35,000 signatures.