Do countries who insist on IELTS see the comprehension problem on social media?

Nigerians have maintained that the compulsory English Proficiency Test requested from Nigerians, and citizens of other Anglophone countries in Africa, seeking to study or work in the United Kingdom, “is simply a way of swindling the citizens of these countries of their monies by the UK authorities.”

In fact, 73,316 (the number when this piece was written) people have signed a petition by Policy Shapers, a public policy organisation, on Change.org, seeking a policy reform by the UK on its request for English Language Proficiency from Nigerians who are migrating to the UK to study or work.

In a post on its website, Policy Shapers insists that Nigeria’s English proficiency far exceeds what the UK thinks.

“There is public evidence to support Nigeria’s demand for inclusion in the Majority English Speaking Country (MESC) list. Some of these include a top 30 global ranking and a top 3 Africa ranking on the annual Education First English Proficiency Index over the past five years; the United Nations projection that 62% of Nigeria’s population is under 25 years, a tech-savvy generation with 75% literacy in English; and a 62.5% pass rate in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) with nearly 5 million English credits recorded between 2016 and 2021,” the post, titled Making a case for Nigeria’s inclusion in the Majority English Speaking Country List, read.

On March 6, Policy Shapers made another post, saying the UK office has yet responded to overwhelming evidence that Nigerians are proficient in English.

Policy Shapers is making the case, and there are many, who have not even signed the petition, who agree that Nigeria should be excluded – the numbers may not have hit the actual facts.

Besides the fact that English is Nigeria’s lingua franca, a lot of Nigerians consciously learn the language so as to be able to communicate with their neighbours. They have to learn the language to understand textbooks, prose works, films, foreign music, etc.

The language, English, is spoken at every turn you make.

Read also: OccupyNASS: Nigerian women lists demands after NASS rejects gender bills

We may argue that proficiency is a bigger case, but this is where the numbers presented by Policy Shapers come in. If only countries who insist on Nigerians taking the IELTS exam just look at the numbers, they will see that the country may have more proficient English-speaking individuals than they imagine.

But, they may be looking at something else – simple comprehension on social media.

The problem started when ‘Omochukwu’ saw “Sunday is on the other hand a general day”.

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His tweet, still on his timeline says, “Whats the meaning of all this? Federal University, Katsina, bans Sunday worship for Christians? This is very illegal.”

Omochukwu is assuming that it means that the University has cancelled Sunday worship for Christians, and many have argued that Omochukwu may understand what that line means, but wants to start a religious war.

There are others who argue that Omochukwu simply has a fundamental comprehension problem, and ‘is one of the reasons the UK has insisted we take the IELTS test’.

We allow you to go to the UK without taking the IELTS test, then you begin to misunderstand everything a UK resident says.

Anonymous UK Official

That is not the case though. At least, we know many Nigerians who are in the UK schooling and making the country proud. There are others doing business, are corporate individuals, and others who are tourists.

But, Omochukwu’s tweet represents those who intentionally or unintentionally misrepresent a message, causing bigger problems in the process.

See other reactions:

As it is usually said: “We can read the message again, this time calmly, without prejudice or hidden intentions.”

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