PARLIAMENT has directed the General Legal Council (GLC) to reconsider the circumstances under which 461 law students either failed or were referred in the 2017/2018 New Professional Law Course Examination.
The five-point recommendation contained in the report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs presented to the Plenary of the House yesterday wants the remarking fee reduced from GH¢3000 to GH¢500.
Signed by Ben Abdallah Banda, the chairman of the committee, the report recommended that the period for remarking was reopened to enable students who could not apply for the remarking to do so and adopt off-site marking retreat to ensure speedy re-marking of scripts.
The report also wants all marking schemes and examiners’ reports made available to lecturers and students and a supplementary examination for all referred 2017/2018 candidates in a timely manner to ensure that successful candidates were able to enroll this year.
Of the 525 Professional Law Students who sat for the examination, only 64 of them representing 12.2 passed, leaving 284, representing 54.1 per cent and 177 representing 33.7 as having failed and referred in their courses respectively.
The aggrieved students on March 5, 2019 petitioned the House seeking a review of circumstances surrounding their examination, arguing that the mass failure were beyond poor performance of students some which include disconnect between students and lecturers as well as questions outside the approved syllabus.
Prior to the introduction of the New Professional Law Course which started in 2016, “the average performance of students……stood around 70 per cent but that has reduced sharply under the new professional law course to about 15 per cent” the report noted.
Per the new arrangement, an independent examination board, established by the GLC, took over the examination function of lecturers of the Ghana School of Law confining them to only the teaching of prescribed subjects.
Presenting the committee’s report to the Plenary via a motion, Mr Banda, Member of Parliament for Offinso South, said the committee was concerned about the “worsening performance of professional law students in the New Professional Law Course.”
He observed that the performance of students pursuing the legal profession had fallen from 68 per cent pass rate in the 2013/2014 academic year to 12.2 per cent in 2018.
He said to address the anomaly, the committee had planned to engage all stakeholders in legal education to consider the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which is currently before the Committee.
Seconding the motion, Akatsi South MP, Bernard Ahiafor, said during their meeting with concerned parties following the petition of the students, a student who had 36 in a course prior to remark recorded 76 after remark, a situation he said was an admission of challenges associated with the process.
Decrying why lecturers were not allowed to examine the students by themselves, Mr Ahiafor said allowing a third party to mark the papers could be the cause of the mass failure recorded in the exams.
In his view, there was a need for a total overhaul of the system, especially the course duration which used to be two years and had been reduced to one year.
Adansi Asokwa Member, K.T Hammond on his part said there was an inherent problem in Ghana’s legal education and that the system was reaching a breaking point.
He also identified what he said was the proliferation of law faculties across the country even at institutions which were established to venture into other areas of study apart from law as part of the problem.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu in his remarks called on the Attorney General to convene a national conference so that all those who mattered took stock on how to improve the system.
Nobody, the Tamale South MP said must be denied the opportunity to become what he or she wants to be for which reason there must be transparency in the organisation of examinations and markings by the external examination body.
Okaikwei Central Member, Patrick Boamah on behalf of the Majority Leadership agreeing that the students have been given a raw deal, urged them to take their studies seriously to justify the tag “learned.”
Speaker Aaron Mike Oquaye in his ruling directed the GLC to consider the recommendations towards an expeditious resolution of the matter; further directing that “a copy of official report of today’s proceedings be transmitted to the Attorney General and members of the GLC and Director of the Ghana School of Law together with the lecturers for appropriate action.”
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI