IELTS: Group Replies UK, Insists Most Nigerians Speak English

A youth-led policy advocacy group, Policy Shapers, has replied to the United Kingdom Home Office over the call for the inclusion of Nigeria in the list of its Majority English Speaking Countries (MESC).

Policy Shapers, an organisation at the forefront of seeking a reform of the English proficiency test for Nigerians and other Anglophone countries on the African continent, also sent a policy brief with pieces of evidence that Nigeria is an English speaking country, to the UK Home Office.

The government of the United Kingdom had two weeks ago replied to a letter written by Policy Shapers in October, where it sought that Nigeria should be included in the UK’s MESC list.

But UK replied that itcould not include Nigeria in its MESC list because there is no public evidence that the majority of Nigerians speak english.

Part of the pieces of evidence put together by the group in the letter titled; “Making a Case for Nigeria’s Inclusion in the Majority English Speaking Country List,” was reviewed by PREMIUM TIMES.

The organisation said Nigeria ranks 3rd in Africa and 30th globally in the annual Education First English Proficiency Index over the past five years; the United Nations projects that 62 per cent of Nigeria’s population is under 25 years and has a tech-savvy generation with 75 per cent literacy in English; and Nigeria has a 62.5 per cent pass rate in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) with nearly 5 million English credits recorded between 2016 and 2021.

It added: “Although the response from the Home Office to our inquiry on its MESC list indices was ambiguous, current data proves beyond reasonable doubt that Nigeria should make the list in line with UK’s simplification of immigration rules project.”

In January, Policy Shapers led a massive online campaignwith a petition that garnered over 72,000 signatures on, seeking a reform of the IELTS policy that requires Nigerians to take the English proficiency test when seeking visa to relocate to the UK for study of work reasons.

The English proficiency test, which lasts only two years, costs at least N90,000, which is three times Nigeria’s current minimum wage.

The group wants the UK to adopt France’s style where the cost of taking the French Proficiency test costs averagely N15,000 and lasts a lifetime.

Policy Shapers had written to the UK Home Office in October 2021 seeking answers to why none of the Anglophone countries in Africa was part of its MESC, and what it will take for the UK to include them on the list.

When the UK repliedthree months later in January, during the height of the online petitions and social media trends, it said it needed “evidence that most people in the country (more than half) speak English as a first language”, adding that; “we rely on publicly available evidence such as official censuses to make this determination along with other academic sources”.

Premium Times

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