There is a problem with the registration of our students from this part of the world for the TOEFL exams and I’ll like to discus it with you. It mostly has to do with the Chinua Achebean one-finger-bring-oil-stain-others scenario. It makes one very sad that the reason why we get sidelined by the rest of the world is that there are some among us who actually do certain unscrupulous things.
For the benefit of those who may not understand why I’m this unhappy, perhaps should take a look at some of the contributions I’ve made on this forum concerning the educational station in Nigeria. What is going on is that there are people who are so fed up with the way it is that they would rather go to school elsewhere. By that elsewhere I mean that they have to go abroad and by that kind of abroad I mean to countries like the US, UK, Canada, Egypt, Ghana and sometimes to Mauritania. For you to go to school ‘abroad’ you have to have enough money and pass certain standardized tests like the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, depending on what level of academic pursuit you are interested in. But all of this is not a problem: for decades and as far as I can remember our students have taken these exams, done very well and have gone to school abroad.
But suddenly, we fear that our students no longer can register for these exams, particularly the TOEFL computer based exam from Lagos, Nigeria. Go to the TOEFL webpage and Nigeria is blacklisted as one country where you cannot register this exam. If you have to register for the Computer based test the ETS will only accept International money orders, authorization vouchers from ETS, UNESCO coupons and international money order. Now if that doesn’t embarrass you, I don’t know what else to say.If you have not found out why Nigerians have been barred from registering online with credit cards for this exam, please know that some Nigerians mostly in Lagos shot us all in the leg when they began to use fake credit cards to register online.
Very recently, the Nigerian agency contracted by the ETS in Lagos to superintend the registration of these exams itself misbehaved. The body, Touché Limited, collected lots of monies from nearly all the candidates within and without the South West, South-South and South-Eastern parts of this country but didn’t remit the funds to the ETS as it should have done. Consequently, all of those who registered for the TOEFL exam late last year missed their dates and the exam. This was why Touché lost its deal with the ETS to register the SATers, TOEFLers, and GMATers to another educational outfit in Port Harcourt. Its name is African International Services.
Yet again, I don’t see any reason why the ETSC should not try to put its house in order by contracting the registration of TOEFL to Africa Independent Services in faraway Port Harcourt. However what we find a little unsettling is the fact that for every little inquiry or the other you have to make concerning the registration for the TOEFL, it must be made in Port Harcourt. This is because Africa International Services has only one phone 048 487 165 that’s eternally telling you the subscriber cannot be reached. Well then, we try to get in touch via email to find out what their service charges are apart from the fee for the TOEFL put at $140.00 but that email ( e email@example.com) has never gone through, at least for the number of times we’ve tried from our end here in Lagos. We have no intention of holding brief for Touché but we want to cast our minds back and recollect that whenever we wanted to get in touch with them from any part of the country, it was easy. I guess this was because they had more than five phone lines, several brochures and a hotline that you could reach at any time of the day and sometimes at night. I think the ETS should look at that Africa International Service email they left on their webpage – it seems as though something is wrong with it or that it should have been firstname.lastname@example.org or something else.
The way things are now my organization is at its wits end. My students have to register for the March TOEFL tests but that means we must travel to Port Harcourt with a lot of money in anticipation of service charges, hotel bills, and transport within the town of Port Harcourt. We know this is not just our problem but one that every other organization, agency, parent and individuals interested in the TOEFL is having here in Lagos. My suggestion to the College Board is that they must democratize and allow other agencies like the USIS or the British Council and some embassies handle sensitive matters like these for them.
If our educational journey in Nigeria has somewhat ended in a cul-de-sac, I don’t think it is fair to continue to slow down those who have decided to travel out on account of insignificant matters of logistics.
Thank you very much for your time.