By AMAKA ABAYOMI & LAJU ARENYEKA
Nigerian students planning to write qualifying examinations into colleges and universities in the United States have begun to make plans to travel outside the country to write the(TOEFL).
In a recent statement published on its website, ETS said both examinations have been suspended indefinitely in Nigeria. It read: “Due to security concerns in Nigeria, GRE® and TOEFL® testing in the country has been suspended for an indefinite period. Candidates who have appointments to take the TOEFL or GRE Tests will be contacted by ETS to process a refund.”
As a result of this development, Nigerian students have already begun to back their bags and examination materials to neighbouring countries such as Ghana, Cotonou and The Gambia to write their examinations.
Ms. Dolapo Badmus, a GRE candidate, is making plans to travel to Cotonou to write her exams next week. She was very upset when speaking to Vanguard Learning. “We were told about the new development at our tutorial centre recently. It costs about N35,000 to register for the examinations alone. It cost another N20,000 per month to pay for TOEFL lessons. I plan to write my exams at Cotonou, I don’t even know anybody there. The inconvenience and cost of the whole thing are very upsetting. But all in all, I think the whole thing is worth it.”
A GRE candidate, Deborah Nne who has chosen to write her examinations in the United States believed that the insecurity excuse is just a smoke screen, and that the suspension is as a result of examination malpractice prevalent in Nigeria. “It is really very discouraging that this thing is happening to us. But I don’t blame them, there is a lot of exam malpractice going on in this country and until they can find a way around it, I suppose this is their best bet.”
The widespread speculation about the real reason behind the suspension is not limited to students alone. Even educationists have their concerns about this. The Country Manager, Learning Nuggets Company, Ms Janet Adeyemi opined that it is unrealistic to say that no place is safe in Nigeria.
“In my opinion, the suspension of the exams has nothing to do with security issues in the country; there are alternatives, there are ways around it. I think it’s more of a political issue, it is not even an issue of migration. It’s not possible to say that nowhere in Nigeria is safe. The ETS is not giving the actual reason for this move. There are so many challenges for Nigerian students who want to write the exams. That is more money and more stress for the candidates. What about when the results some, will they have to travel to get the results too?”
Mr. Sunday Odigwe, a TOEFL tutor in Lagos believes that there may not be enough space for Nigerian students in centres in neighbouring countries.
“I’m not even sure that there are enough centres in Cotonou to take Nigerian students, most people may have to go to Ghana top write the exams. The major reason behind this is impersonation and other forms of malpractice. Nigerian students have a reputation for getting other people to write their exams for them. The security reason is just a hoax, because if it wasn’t, only the North would be affected.”
Mr. Akin Aremi, a GRE tutor also holds this belief. “Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of applicants on this side of the world. Perhaps the ETS is trying to overhaul the system in Nigeria because of multiple cases of examination malpractice.
"The only challenge I foresee is that of cost. Students will have to spend more travelling outside the country just to write examinations” he said.
A student who registered for the examinations who simply gave his name as Alex, said “the statement from ETS is suggestive and many Nigerians are falling for it. We should have asked them to clarify what they mean by ‘due to security concerns’ before jumping to unnecessary conclusions about ourselves.
“If they were refering to test security, it is another ball game. But they never said that. I think we talk down the country a lot. They are no saints out there! Nigeria does not rank the worst corrupt country in the world, so why has ETS not suspended operations in those other corrupt countries?”