Over 40,000 Nigerians have signed a petition calling on the home office of the United Kingdom, to either delist Nigeria from the list of countries whose citizens are required to take English Proficiency tests, IELTS, or reduce the fees charged for the examination.
Tests on the use of English language test under the International English Language Testing System, IELTS, is mandatory for citizens of any country desiring to relocate to the UK, United Kingdom, for work or study opportunities.
Nigerians are protesting the policy, calling it a “rip-off.”
The cost of the IELTS test, which currently stands between N80, 000 and N90, 000 in Nigeria, is almost three times the country’s minimum wage of N30, 000.
Besides the high cost, the IELTS test is only valid for two years and can only be taken in 12 cities across Nigeria.
Candidates would have to re-sit the examination if they fail, or are unable to relocate to the UK within two years of passing the test.
The petitioners compared the English Proficiency tests with the French proficiency test which costs half the minimum wage.
Using hashtages like #ReformIELTSPolicy, #IELTS, and #TOEFL, many Nigerians who took to the social media handle, Twitter, have accused the UK of commercializing the test.
Initiators of the online petition, Policy Shapers, wondered why none of the over 20 Anglophone countries in Africa was on the list of countries exempted from taking the test, “despite the fact that these African countries are former British colonies and belong to the Commonwealth.”
In 2020, the UK Home office, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that it did not have evidence that the majority of Nigerians speak English as a first language.
“We do not have the required evidence that shows the majority of people in Nigeria speak English as their first language,” it wrote in a reply to the BBC’s enquiry.
It added: “We must have evidence that at least 51 per cent of the population speaks English as a first language for a country to be included in the Majority English Speaking Country list.”