EXPOSED! Real Reasons ETS Suspended GRE, TOEFL In Nigeria

EXPOSED! Real Reasons ETS Suspended GRE, TOEFL In Nigeria

Despite the claim by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) that it suspended the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Test of English for Foreign Learners (TOEFL) in Nigeria due to security concerns, some ETS agents who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES suggest “large-scale examination malpractices” and decay of infrastructure at testing centres may be the real reason behind the suspension.

In a statement posted on its website last week Thursday, ETS stated that “Due to security concerns in Nigeria, GRE® and TOEFL® testing in the country has been suspended for an indefinite period.”

Responding to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry for details of the security concerns, Christine Betaneli, spokesperson for the Higher Education Division, said she could not “elaborate further.”

She suggested it was routine exercise.

“I can tell you that ETS regularly monitors its operations worldwide to ensure, among other things, that its test centers are operating according to our standards and that students will be able to test in a secure environment. This may result, from time to time, in testing operations being suspended pending further review. Such is the case in Nigeria,” she wrote in an email.

However, ETS approved agents who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said the reason may actually be the increasing cases of impersonation and other examination malpractices and decay of infrastructure in testing centres across the country.

“The reason they gave was that there were large-scale examination malpractices,” said Solomon Ekong, an employee of E-Global International Education, an ETS approved testing centre in Lagos.

“As a Nigerian, exam malpractice cannot be totally ruled out just like the local exams we have in Nigeria. In our own centre we stand out. Candidates have been coming to ask for special assistance and the stuff like that. We tell them it is not possible.

“We have been warning operators who have been collecting money for exam runs. In fact people have been reported to ETS in the past. Several centres have been closed down before now based on this particular issue,” he continued.

Brain Nnadikwe, an administrator of ETS examination with another ETS-approved testing centre, First New Generation (FNG), said ETS had complained about widespread examination malpractices in the country in the past.

“They’ve been complaining about malpractices for a very long time. The only thing I know is widespread is impersonation. Impersonation is a very big issue,” he said.

Derelict facilities

Although ETS inspects all testing centres before they are accredited, it does not do follow-up inspections to check that facilities at the testing centres are up to date. The ETS operators told PREMIUM TIMES that power outage is a major factor affecting the computer-based examinations.

“Power issue is a general problem in Nigeria. We have backup in my centre. We use generator. Infrastructure is a very serious issue as far as our conduct of the exam is concerned,” said Mr. Nnadikwe.

“There have been some centres where they’ve had power outages in-between exams. This has been going on for a while,” said Mr. Ekong.

ETS should get more involved

The operators however blame ETS as being part of the problem. They said ETS pays lip services to inspection of centres and invigilation during examinations.

“Yes, we know that there have been malpractice but ETS should also do a policing of the exam themselves. Rather than leave it in the hands of Nigerians they should have their own employed representatives for the conduct of the exams. They are not always present during the exam. Occasionally they just come to see what is happening and they leave. They don’t have their in-house persons to monitor the conduct of the exams. Sometimes it takes them time to really remedy the issues,” said Mr. Nnadikwe.

Mr. Ekong complained that ETS did not consult its agents in Nigeria before deciding to suspend the examinations. He said this is bad for business as well as for candidates.

“It doesn’t say well of our image as a nation,” Mr. Ekong said. “We would have expected them to send delegates to us before coming out with such decision. We are talking about a whole nation for Christ sake. It is very bad for business. Thousands of candidates have already been registered for exams only to tell them that exam can no longer hold and talking about the refund of money.”

-Premium Times

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