By John Ikani
The advocacy for the exemption of Nigeria and other English-speaking African countries from writing IELTS exams has gotten another major boost with Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs throwing its weight behind the campaign.
The ministry gave its backing to the campaign when its Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Gabriel Tanimu Aduda, met with a delegation from Policy Shapers and Change.org at the ministry’s headquarters in Tafa Balewa House, Abuja, on Friday.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the status of engagements with the UK government and other foreign institutions on the call for the exemption of Nigerians from English proficiency tests when they seek study or work opportunities abroad.
Policy Shapers, a youth-led policy advocacy group, has been leading the #ReformIELTS Campaign since October 2021 seeking the inclusion of Nigeria and other Anglo-African countries in the UK government’s Majority English Speaking Country (MESC) list.
The group’s petition on Change.org directed to UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has now been supported by almost 80,000 people.
Intimating the ministry with the group’s giant strides on the #ReformIELTS Campaign, Ebenezar Wikina, founder of Policy Shapers, said: “We have now submitted up to 20 pages of evidence as requested by the UK government to validate Nigeria’s exemption from English proficiency exams.”
He noted that the data submitted to the UK were drawn from several veritable sources including, the United Nations, West African Examinations Council (WAEC), the World Bank, Education First’s annual English Proficiency Index, among other international organisations.
Also highlighting the importance of the #ReformIELTS Campaign, and the role of digital advocacy, Weyinmi Eribo, Training Coordinator, Change.org Nigeria told the Permanent Secretary that Change.org continues to support petition starters in Nigeria who seek to drive social change through digital advocacy.
Reaching over 15 million people in Nigeria over the past year, she said their mandate is to raise a new generation of changemakers.
Receiving the campaign documents, Ambassador Aduda thanked Policy Shapers and Change.org for the noble initiative and expressed the willingness of the Ministry to ensure that this issue is resolved diplomatically.
The #ReformIELTS campaign has continued to record wins around the world through the efforts of its expansive network of campaigners like Dr. Olumuyiwa Igbalajobi, Dr. Kelvin Alaneme, Uche Levi Esq, and many others.
Over the past one month six universities including, the University of Oregon, Clemson University, Athabasca University, and University of Texas at Austin, have all officially exempted Nigerians and Anglo-Africans from English proficiency tests.
The latest endorsement from the ministry builds on the promise made by Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke about the #ReformIELTS campaign in October 2021, stating that the Federal Government will work to address the issue.