I have beef


There is some form of racism or neo- colonialism or I don’t know what that is practiced by universities in the west that I don’t understand and that should end. I apply for an admission to a university say in Melbourne for a PhD and one of the requirements is an English language proficiency exam. Now, I would not have a problem with this if my education had been in a language other than English. But this is not the effing case.

The language of instruction at the university is English. It is the same in primary and secondary school. Why then would someone think that after writing and defending a thesis in English I can’t speak or understand English and must prove my proficiency by taking an exam that costs 240 USD?

If this is not a form of systematic racism, then I don’t know what is. Or maybe I am wrong and that we who were colonialized by Britain and adopted their language as a method of instruction can’t speak it, can’t write it and maybe, can’t read it.

Or am I missing something?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

55 thoughts on “I have beef

  1. Barry says:

    I don’t know, Mak. Most nations that accept foreign students require some evidence that students are proficient in the approved teaching language(s). It’s not based on race but on the primary language(s) of the country of origin. NZ required evidence of English language skills for many visas including student visas, although not necessarily a pass in an English proficiency exam. Generally residents of Australia, the UK, the US and Canada aren’t required to prove they are competent in English unless English is not their primary language, which might apply to French speakers from Canada, or those whose primary language is an indigenous non-English language of on of those four nations. Everyone else, regardless of race or nationality must provide evidence the their English proficiency (or pre-purchase a course of tuition). The level of proficiency depends on the type of visa being applied for, and there are many ways, apart from having sat a proficiency exam in the previous two years that can provide the evidence required. The educational institutions themselves may have more restrictive or more relaxed requirements, but even I as a Kiwi need to meet those conditions.

    Having said that Aussies are very nationalistic, and one only needs to compare the rights given to Australians living in NZ (same rights as all NZ residents whether citizens or not) compared to the rights given to Kiwis living in Australia (none) to understand their mindset. I wouldn’t be surprised of Australian educational institutions required Kiwis to prove their English proficiency as well ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nannus says:

    I think it is just a case of burocracy. There is a rule there that that test has to be taken, so it has to be taken. Rules are being made, like “all foreign applicants have to prove their English proficiency by taking the test XYZ”, and then that rule is applied, even if it is totally irational in some cases. The people involved probably have no room for discretion. I don’t think it is racism. It is thoughtlessness when designing those rules.
    This is a country that has a tradition of ethnic cleansing against indigenous people. A country that deports refugees to small islands (Nauru, Manus Island) and imprisons them for years. I am currently reading a fascinating and shocking book written (or rather typed on a smartphone keyboard) by a prisoner on Manus Island: No Friend but the mountain, by Behrouz Boochani.
    In a country that treats innocent refugees like this, there is definitely racism, but here I think it is just a case of bureaucratism.
    Bureaucracies try to formalize a part of reality into rules. But that doesn’t work; reality always has more characteristics and individual cases than can be represented in any system of rules. The bureaucratic system is then nevertheless enforced, even if it is unreasonable in many individual cases.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      No Friend but the mountain, by Behrouz Boochani. must be a riveting read. I will look for it sometime in the future.
      Bureaucracy will be the end of us all.

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  3. Tish Farrell says:

    I don’t think you want to go to Melbourne, Mak. If that requirement is specific to you as an applicant, it tells you all you need to know about the quality of their scholarship. (Or just write it off as bureaucratic nonsense). Intellectual integrity of the sort you would expect might be better found on your own fine continent, might it not?

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    • makagutu says:

      I was reading an article by a South African student whose argument that Africans should pursue their post graduate degrees in Africa to raise the standing of their universities in the global rankings and contribute to policy where it really matters.

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      • Tish Farrell says:

        Definitely agree, though it’s tragic that African universities should have to prove themselves against western ones. You anyway well know Ngugi wa Thiongo’s notion of ‘colonialism of the mind’. Africa doesn’t need western thinking (it never did), especially as the so-called elite learned institutions over here appear to be going ‘woke’. IMO tells you everything about their current standards of scholarship. We’re retreating to the era of medieval suspicion and finger pointing and censorship. Science what science? Intellectual rigour – goodness me, no. Which now has me remembering the great medieval libraries of Mali that in recent times malign forces have tried to destroy.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. john zande says:

    Damn, that’s expensive.

    Maybe it’s an Australian thing, but in first year we all had to take an English class which went over the basics we learned in school.

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  5. Ark says:

    As a vegetarian I have no beef at all.

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  6. Ark says:

    On a completely different note but still in Melbourne…. Saw the T 20 NB match between India and Pakistan at the MCG on the box last night.
    Amazing. Over 100,00 thousand in the stadium.

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  7. renudepride says:

    Greed. It is fluent in all languages. Someone collects the fee for the proficiency examination, thus his/her financial status is enriched. Please understand that as a Deaf person, I cannot hear nor speak English, but I can certainly sign the hell out of the language! ๐Ÿ™‚ Naked hugs, my Kenyan brother!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Neil Rickert says:

    I seem to recall that when I applied for a US visa (I was in Australia), I had to prove my competence at English. I think this is just standard red tape.

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