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Lawyer Francis Sosu petitions Parliament over Law School exams failure

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The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina constituency, Lawyer Francis-Xavier Sosu has asked Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Alban Sumana Bagbin to find an end to the recent mass failure of the law school entrance examinations in addition to the 2021 edition.

The request dated last Tuesday, October 5, 2021 and signed by the Human Rights & Public Interest Lawyer is directed at the General Legal Council (GLC), the body responsible for regulating legal education and the legal profession.

The request is premised on Article 37(1) of the 1992 Constitution.

Request

Per the request, Mr. Sosu wants Rt. Hon. Speaker to order GLC to submit raw scores to the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for review and verification as part of the committee’s oversight duties.

“Following recent reports of mass failure in the Law School Entrance Exams and related outcry from the general public, I wish to petition your High Office to Order the General Legal Council to submit raw scores of their recent Entrance Examination to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for verification and review of scores.  This is in line with the principles of transparency and accountability and effective separation of powers as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of the Republic.

“The Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee is therefore best placed to investigate this matter as the Committee with oversight responsibility over Legal Education in Ghana. The 28 percent pass in this year’s admissions into the Ghana School of Law represents a systemic problem that must be of concern to all Democracy watchers, Parliament as an institution, and everyone who believes in equality and fairness before the law as a critical component to the creation of a free and fair society with ample opportunities for everyone” the letter stated.

According to the lawmaker, Article 37(1) of the 1992 Constitution provides “the State shall endeavor to secure and protect a social order founded on the ideals and principles of freedom, equality, justice, probity and accountability as enshrined in Chapter 5 of this Constitution; and in particular, the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring every citizen has equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law.”

He added, “In 2017, more than eighty (80) percent of students were said to have failed, as only 91 out of the over 500 candidates passed. In 2018, only nine (9) percent of the students who sat the law exam were said to have passed. In 2019, only 128 out of 1,820 candidates who sat for the entrance exams passed, representing 7 percent. What is worse is that the 2021 budget reported that “in 2020, a total of 549 Lawyers were enrolled after entrance exams were conducted for 2,701 applicants out of which 1,045 passed.” It further stated that “the Ghana School of Law expects to conduct entrance examinations for 2,200 applicants and admit 550 to the School of Law while 450 students are expected to be called to the Bar.”

“As such, there is the need for investigations to ascertain whether or not the pass rates and scores are based on actual performance of students during examinations, or as a result of lack of available infrastructure to accommodate the excess numbers, hence this petition.”

Alleged exclusion of 499 students from successful candidates

The Madina lawmaker petition comes after the National Association of Law Students (NALS) disclosed in a press release that some law students failed their entrance examinations not because they did not pass but because there was an original intention to admit only 550 students.

The Association claims that 1,289 out of the 2,824 students who sat for the exams met the 50% pass mark yet, were excluded from the successful candidates.

“NALS regrets ascertaining thereto that contrary to the earlier results, some 1,289 out of the 2,824 candidates, representing 45.6%, obtained 50% aggregated score hitherto set as a pass mark.”

“Yet, there was a clear, very inexcusable exclusion of some 499 candidates, constituting 39% of candidates who obtained this 50% and 18% of all the candidates,” NALS alleged in a statement.

According to National Association of Law Students (NALS) leader, Mr Asare, if Parliament House can determine the number of students to enter the law school, it means the GLC is not autonomous as it ought to be.

“I think it [GLC] needs a total overhaul because you cannot put a square peg in a round hole. Lawyers and judges are supposed to adjudicate; their place is not run education, so that by itself is the first question that I will pose to anybody who asks such a question.”

“You have the chairman of the GLC being the Chief Justice; his three immediate associates are also on the board, the Attorney General who represents the President is on that board.

“When there are issues, and you have to resolve them, indirectly, you are going back to the same board that took a decision actually to adjudicate on the matter,” he said.

2021 Law Exams

The 2021 Law School Entrance Exams saw only 790 out of the 2,824 candidates pass to gain admission into the professional school.

This means 2,030 students failed and will not be admitted into the Ghana School of Law.

The results released by the General Legal Council means 28% of the total candidates passed.

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