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This Is Africa community is calling on the British Council to stop conducting English proficiency exams for Africans from common wealth countries and those who were not only instructed in English throughout their education but also utilise it as the official language in their countries. We have for some time agitated on social media for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to be discontinued for their exploitation of Africans from former colonies.

This is a British Council consideration as it is tasked with fostering cultural relations and educational opportunities. The latter extends to developing a wider knowledge of the English language which it believes transforms lives. It states, “Good English teaching helps people to study and work and to develop careers, confidence and networks.”

However it is not lost on the African populace that the UK English teaching sector for international opportunities adds approximately £3 billion to the UK economy annually. The British Council’s partnership with UK exam boards generates almost £100 million per annum for UK exam boards. In the two years alone (2018-19) the British Council expects to provide exams for approx. four million candidates.

According to the British Council, “English teaching and exams are part of the British Council that generate surplus- the organisation’s genuinely unrestricted financial resources.” About 85 per cent of the British Council’s turnover is earned through teaching and exams, tendered contracts and partnerships, the organisation stated.

In 2015-16, the British Council earned a total income of £980 million. Its English exams accounted for 58 per cent of its income of £568 million. Consequently in its 2016-17 financial review, the British Council achieved almost 10 per cent growth with income from exams growing by 20.2 per cent; represented 60 per cent of its income of £650.1 million. Then in its 2017-18 financial review, the British Council achieved a 9.0 per cent growth in its total income “principally due to strong performance from its English teaching and examinations, which attributed to 41 per cent of its £486.9 million income.

It is against the above that we’re calling for the end of English proficiency exams as the British Council has proven that these exams are a huge source of revenue. Unfortunately, these exams are a means of extorting Africans who seek to study abroad. English is an official language in all countries colonised by Britain. It is also the medium of teaching in schools from primary to university level. To further subject graduates to a $200 IELTS exams that expires every two years is highly condemnable.

It is furthermore a humiliation of Africans still affected by colonialism in their relegation of indigenous languages for the pursuit of English proficiency. The tyranny of the English language may continue, but we should not pay to partake in that tyranny.

Is the British Council unaware that graduates in English speaking countries are taught in English? Have to take English as a general course? This feigned ignorance is intolerable. We hereby ask that all who believe in the power of change and are interested in ending this exploitation to sign this petition and share widely.

 Follow @travelbrothers_ and @ThisIsAfricaTIA to follow up on the petition.