In a time when Modern-day has learned from its past whitewashing tendencies, Nigeria looks to put an end to their country-mandated English Language Proficiency Examinations that are mostly managed by the British Council. Petitioners of the cause agree with the wide range of justifications. One main point is that the English examinations cost more than thrice Nigeria’s minimum wage ($210) and must be renewed every two years.
Almost 500,000 signatures support the call for an end t international English language tests. The mostly young petitioners argue that since English is Nigeria’s official language and the first language for many people there, the country should be exempt from the test.
The petition’s website has a spread of reasons justifying their stance on this issue. Another main issue aside from the obviously absurd cost of the test is the lack of diverse countries on the exemption list. In order to get on this list, a country must have at least 51% of its population must speak English as a first language. Nigeria is one of the 31 countries that ranked ‘Very High’ or ‘High’ on the 2021 Education First English Proficiency Index.
On their petition webpage, leaders of the movement state how they’re been trying to come into contact with the Home Office. They were hoping as a group of campaigners requesting for the modalities British Council put in place measure the English proficiency in the 18 countries on its exemption list. Supporters of the movement believe the same should be applied to Nigeria and other Anglophone countries on the continent.
More than three months after their initial email, several follow-up emails, and social media coverage, the UK Home Office refused to respond to their urgent request. The group has a widely diverse audience of supporters, the biggest of which, is Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. During an engagement with 2021 Mandela Washington Fellows and US Ambassador to Nigeria, he expressed his support for the cause, “This is something that we should really work on. I will ask the Minister of Education as well as the Minister of Youths and
Sports exactly what is going on about this.”
The issue of language equality grows in its urgency as the UK continues to ignore the definition of diplomacy and countries fear conversations on decolonization. Perhaps the world isn’t as progressive as they claim they are.