Student leadership of the Ghana Law School has portioned the leadership of Parliament over the high failure rates in the professional law examinations. This follows the 2017 and 2018 low pass results of about 20%, whereby Professional Law Course Examination results recorded only 91 students out of approximately 600) students passing the examinations.
Over 200 candidates were repeated. Also, only 7 out of 33 Post-Call Students who took the examinations in the same academic year passed.
Out of the over 200 students repeated in the 2017 Professional Law Course Examinations, only 8 students passed all ten (10) courses upon taking the examination for a second time.
The petition, signed by the SRC President, Emmanuel Kwabena Owusu Amoah assured leadership of Parliament of their unflinching cooperation in finding lasting solution to the problem of massive failure of students in the Professional Law Examinations and other challenges affecting legal education in Ghana.
Below is the full text
THE RT. HON. SPEAKER
PETITION FOR INTERVENTION IN THE ISSUES RELATING TOHIGH FAILURE RATES OF STUDENTS IN THE 2018 PROFESSIONAL LAW COURSE EXAMINATIONS
- Since the establishment of the Independent Examinations Committee (IEC), formerly known as the Independent Examinations Board(IEB), to administer both the Entrance Examinations and the Professional Law Course Examinations for the Ghana School of Law, there have been high rates of failure recorded in the examination results.
- The 2017 Professional Law Course Examination results recorded only ninety-one (91) students out of a total of approximately six hundred (600) students as having passed the examinations. Over two hundred (200) candidates were repeated. Also, only seven (7) out of thirty- three (33) Post-Call Students who took the examinations in the same academic year passed.
- Out of the over 200 students repeated in the 2017 Professional Law Course Examinations, onlyeight (8) students passed all ten (10) courses upon taking the examination for a second time.
- The 2018 Professional Law Course Examinations results are currently the worst in the recent history of the Ghana School of Law. Out of a total of five hundred and twenty- five (525) students who sat the examinations, only 64 students representing12.2%passed all ten courses. A total of one hundred and seventy- seven (177) students representing 33.7%were referred in various subjects while284 students,representing 54.1% ofthe total number of students, were repeated.
- The legality of the erstwhile Independent Examinations Board was challenged in the Supreme Court case of Asare v. Attorney- General and the General Legal Counciland the Apex Court held that the IEB was foreign to law.
- Consequently, Regulation 12 of the Legal Profession(Professional and Post-Call Law Course) Regulations, 2018 (LI 2355) gave legal backing to the 4member IEC.
- Mr. Speaker, the IEC operates to exclude lecturers from the examination process. By its modus operandi, lecturers neither set examination questions nor mark scripts.
- This development has created several challenges including but not limited to the following:
i. Examination questions falling outside the course outline based on which students are taught.
ii. Defective examination questions, which lecturers usually point out in class when discussing past questions with students.
iii. Wrong set of questions for specific subjects e.g. in 2017 students boycotted the Criminal Procedure Examination because Law of Evidence questions were included in that examination.
iv. Again, there have been reports of errors in the tallying of examination results where students upon application for re-tallying of their marks passed whereas they were failed initially.
- In addition to the above, delay in the release of examination remarking results does not afford students the opportunity to make informed decisions as to whether to register to retake the examinations or otherwise. This is as a result of the overlap in the period for registration for the supplementary/re-sit examinations and that of the release of examination remarking results.
- Mr. Speaker, it is the practice that when the first set of examinations are conducted in June, the IEC holds on to the results until the second set of examinations are conducted in September before releasing the results. The 2017 and 2018 examinations results were released in February 2018 and 2019 respectively, eight months after the conduct of the first set of examinations. This practice puts students through a lot of psychological trauma. While we think that this practice is unfair, it is also not akin to international best practice.
- Again, apart from publishing the index numbers of students who passed or were referred in one or two subjects, students are not given a statement of their results upon its release.
- The current practice is that students who desire to see their results must visit the records office for an officer to mention their grades to themso students write them out themselves. Students are not allowed to see their actual marks. This practice clearly violates the rights of students to fully access their examination results. There is also a high probability of wrong results being mentioned to students and they would have no means to verify this.
- Given the challenges with the management of the examinations, some students decide to apply for remarking of their scripts. Unfortunately, the cost of applying for remarking is a whopping three thousand Ghana Cedis (Gh¢ 3,000.00) per script. The amount is exorbitant and hence it prevents students with genuine concernsbut who are unable to afford it from exercising their right to remark scripts.
- Mr Speaker, another challenge that requires attention is the repeat policy of the Ghana School of Law. Regulation 14 of the Legal Profession (Professional and Post-Call Law Course) Regulations, 2018 (LI 2355) provides that a candidate who fails three or more subjects cumulatively for both semesters shall re-register and repeat both semesters the following academic year.This means that a student who passes seven (7) subjects with seven (7) “As” and fails three (3) papers with three (3) “Cs” shall be deemed to have failed the course and would be required to re-register and repeat both semesters the following academic year. This is not a fair position particularly when there is the possibility of re-writing the failed papers and not necessarily repeating the whole year.
- In March, 2018 the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee of the General Legal Council led by Justice William Atuguba had meetings with students at the Accra Main, Green Hill and the Kumasi Campuses of the Ghana School of Law to obtain feedback from students on the Professional Law Course. During the interactions, students raised concerns about challenges with examinations particularly with setting questions outside the course manuals given them. The Committee assured students that such incidents would not recur. The 2018 Professional Law Course Examination however was not without challenges previously raised.
- Upon completion of the 2018 Professional Law Examinations, the Students’ Representative Council, in good faith, submitted a detailed report to the General Legal Council on the examinations and detailed certain challenges identified (Please find attached a copy of the said report for ease of reference). This report provided comprehensive feedback to the GLC on the examinations from the perspective of students. It was the expectation of the Students’ Representative Council that the GLC would consider the content of the report. This however has not yielded favourable results yet.
- Eventually, the results of the 2018 PLC examinations were released on February 19, 2019 and it has recorded the worst performance in the recent history of the Ghana School of Law so far.
- Having exhausted all internal mechanisms of seeking redress to our concerns, we are left with no choice than seek the intervention of the august House of Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, given the above situation we humbly request:
- That a thorough investigation and audit be conducted into the activities and procedures of the Independent Examinations Committee relating to the 2018 Professional Law Course Examinations.
- That all failed scripts in Family Law and Practice and Company Law and Commercial Practice, in which examination questions were outside of the course outline, should be remarked at NO cost to students and the rest marked over 100%. It is suggested and requested that an independent body other than the IEC remark these scripts.
- That the cost of remarking any additional paper apart from the two (2) subjects mentioned above should be reduced from Gh¢ 3,000.00 per script to Gh¢500.00 per script and the results of remarked scripts be published within five weeks (in accordance to the Students Handbook of the Ghana School of Law) from the date of submission of the petitions for remarking.
- That arrangements be made for repeat students to take their examinations within one year to enable successful candidates to be called to bar within that year.
- That the IEC should publish detailed examiner’s reports for each examination conducted.
- That the cumulative release of results be abolished.
- That students be given hard copies of statement of their results.
Mr. Speaker, the Ghana School of Law, the sole institution for professional legal education in the Republic, marked its sixtieth anniversary last year 2018. The tremendous impact of professional legal education is evident in all facets of the economy. Indeed, we commend all the stakeholders, which include the General Legal Council, the lecturers as well as the student body. The challenges discussed above are however pressing and must be addressed.
Secondly, we have absolute confidence in our Parliament’s ability to intervene to successfully resolve the challenges facing students in the ultimate interest of legal education and justice in this country.
While looking forward to a favourable outcome, we wish to assure the leadership of Parliament of our unflinching cooperation in finding a lasting solution to the problem of massive failure of students in the Professional Law Examinations and other challenges affecting legal education in Ghana.
EMMANUEL KWABENA OWUSU AMOAH
REPUBLIC OF GHANA
COUNCIL OF STATE
NATIONAL HOUSE OF CHIEFS