Stop asking Nigerians to write IELTS

Stop asking Nigerians to write IELTS

12 January 2022
Petition to
Suella Braverman (Home Secretary of the United Kingdom) and
Signatures: 82,882Next Goal: 150,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Policy Shapers

Why should Nigerians be made to write English language proficiency examinations that cost more than thrice our minimum wage ($210) and the result expires every two years?


The UK Home Office has a list of 18 countries whose citizens are exempt from writing an English proficiency test (IELTS, TOEFL, etc.) when they seek to study or migrate to the UK, including; Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Malta, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, to mention a few. However, it will interest you to know that there is no Anglophone African country (out of 20+ English-speaking countries on the continent) on the Home Office list. Not Nigeria, not Ghana, not Kenya, not South Africa. NOT EVEN ONE. Despite the fact that these African countries are former British colonies and belong to the Commonwealth! Why? Share our petition

The Home Office told the BBC, who did a report on this issue, that for a country to be listed on its IELTS Exemption list, 51% of its population must speak English as a first language. Fair enough right? Since October we have written to the Home Office as a collective of campaigners requesting for the modalities it put in place to measure English proficiency in the 18 countries on its list as we believe the same should be applied to Nigeria and other Anglophone countries on the continent.

More than 3 months after our initial email and several follow-up emails (plus tons of social media posts), the UK Home Office has refused to respond to this urgent request.


Nigeria was one of the 31 countries out of 112 across the world that ranked 'Very High' or 'High' on the 2021 Education First (EF) English Proficiency Index. Share our petition

With 560 index points, Nigeria ranked 3rd in Africa just behind Kenya (587 points) and South Africa (606 points). 

EF EPI 2021 scores have been found to correlate strongly with TOEFL iBT 2019 scores (r=0.81) and IELTS Academic Test 2019 scores (r=0.73). These correlations show that, while these tests have different designs and test taker profiles, they reveal similar trends in national English proficiency. (Read full report here)


The issue of language equality has never been more urgent even as the UK opens up conversations on decolonization. We believe this is a challenge that needs to be addressed urgently and we need more voices echoing the need for this reform to the UK Home Office. This is why we need your signature and we believe we will win. Why are we so confident?

In February 2020, Ebenezar Wikina, Founder of Policy Shapers stood up to Nexford University and was willing to forgo his business degree admission when he asked why Nigerians should be made to write English Proficiency exams before gaining admission into the American university. His tweet with screenshots of his reply to their admissions team went viral and this, in addition to his strong argument, made the University change its admission policy. As a result, since 2020 people who are from English-speaking countries can take the introductory course at Nexford and have their grades serve as a measure of their proficiency.

If he made this change happen alone, imagine how much more we can all do together. Share our petition


Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo endorsed our campaign during an engagement with 2021 Mandela Washington Fellows and US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard. He said, “I entirely agree that as an English-speaking country, we should be beneficiaries of some concession as opposed to being forced every two years to take the same test especially if one has passed it before. 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.”

Watch the VP's Statement here

Sign and share! Also keep the conversation going on social media, #ReformIELTSPolicy

(Image Credit: Exam Planet)

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Signatures: 82,882Next Goal: 150,000
Support now