Probe mass failures, law students plead with president
By Maxwell Ofori
The National Association of Law Students has proposed to President Akufo-Addo to set up a committee to conduct a formal inquiry into the mass failure of applicants in the 2019 Ghana School of Law entrance exam.
The proposal was contained in a petition submitted to the President yesterday at Jubilee House, which was received by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Samuel Abu Jinapor, on behalf of the President.
The proposal comes on the heels of what has been described as mass failures recorded in the law exams, as only 128 out of 1,820 applicants who sat for the 2019 entrance examination passed.
This development, among others, has angered the association, which has since registered its discontentment against the General Legal Council, the regulatory body.
Last week, the members of the association went on the streets of Accra to demonstrate, and also to present a petition to the President, but the peaceful march turned violent, following clashes with the police, making it impossible for them to deliver the petition.
The National Association of Law Students further persevered and managed to come to the Presidency yesterday, the same venue the police prevented them from visiting last week.
The petitioners proposed that: “A Commission of Inquiry be set up to investigate among other things, the mass failure of applicants in the 2019 Ghana School of Law entrance exam, and the stewardship of the General Legal Council, vis-à-vis, legal education in Ghana.
“It is important that such a commission be given the power to interrogate educators and students alike, look into the numerous reports on the structure of legal education that have been published (such as the Sophia Adinyira Report, the plenary report of Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, the 2018 Report of the Ghana School of Law Registrar and Professor Asare’s Proposal for Overhauling Legal Education), and why they have never been adopted or implemented, among others.”
Under the signature of the President of the Students Representative Council of the Ghana School of Law, Jonathan Alua, and others, the association was confident that the report of the committee would result in the recommendation that the present regulatory framework needs to be revised to improve the quality of, and access to, legal education in Ghana.
They also want a decentralised professional training system and the Ghana School of Law entrance exam scrapped.
They firmly believe that there is no reason professional legal training should be within the purview of only the Ghana School of Law.
They also believe that allowing all or some of the faculties to provide professional legal training solves the problem of lack of space at the Ghana School of Law.
“With this decentralised system, there would be no need for an entrance exam. Instead, all students, having completed a unified legal education programme, would be able to take a professional or bar exam held annually, a la WAEC Examinations, or bi-annually, a la ACCA Professional Examinations. This is done in other jurisdictions.”
In concluding, the petitioners said: “Ghanaian law students are not the worst in the world. In fact, as already noted, many of those who are rejected here are able to get called to the Bar in other Commonwealth jurisdictions with relative ease. Placed within context, it is painfully clear that reform is badly needed. A 93% failure rate cannot be the fault of the students.
“However, the present inertia at the General Legal Council, coupled with what appears to be a predisposition to the status quo, continues to foment injustice on many law students, effectively scapegoating us for the failures of regulators.”
Mr Abu Jinapor thanked the group and assured them that the petition would be given to the President.
He also assured them that if there are any actions necessary for the President to take, he would do that accordingly.