NEWS COMMENTARY CALLS ON PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO TO CALL THE GENERAL LEGAL COUNCIL TO ORDER IN THEIR POOR MANAGEMENT OF PROFESSIONAL LEGAL EDUCATION
Watchers of the legal education space such as Coalition for National Sovereignty have noted with regret the deteriorating state of Professional Legal Education in the country. At a time, Ghana’s population is growing and requires more lawyers to enhance access to justice and promote the rule of law. The General Legal Council is rather implementing policies that deliberately deny qualified citizens access to Professional Legal Education. It is sad to note, that out of 1,820 applicants to the Ghana School of Law only 128 of them were offered admission in the current intake. There must be something fundamentally wrong with the system of admission, especially considering the fact that a significant number of lecturers at the various law faculties are the same lecturers at the law school. What could account for this mass failures at this time? We are cognisant of the recent changes in the system which brought about an Independent Examination Committee, but the advent of this committee has only aggravated the issues and worsened the plight of prospective students. The evidence shows that since the commencement of the recent reforms by the General Legal Council the pass rate has reduced drastically from 77.2% in 2015/2016 to 12.2% in 2017/2018.
Investigations by Parliament show that there exist a disconnect between teaching, learning and examinations which is partly responsible for the mass failure. It appears there is a grand scheme to limit the number of lawyers produced yearly. There have been serious concerns with the quality of examination questions as well as poor marking and tallying of examination results. The quality of examiners cannot be ascertained and examiners do not provide marking schemes and examiners’ reports to enable students and lecturers to appreciate what may be going wrong with the system. All attempts by students to seek redress through Petitions to the General Legal Council, the Speaker of Parliament and President Akufo-Addo have proved futile. Even though Parliament conducted some investigations into the matter and made a number of recommendations to the General Legal Council on how to resolve the challenges, the Council has flagrantly disregarded them. There is a wide held view that the silence of President Akufo-Addo in this matter is becoming increasingly worrying, especially considering the fact that he is a lawyer and former member of the General Legal Council. It is the hope of many, that the President will act speedily and decisively on the matter to save the image of legal training in the country.
The President ought to be reminded of Article 1 (1) of the 1992 Constitution that the sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people and it is in their name and for their welfare that the powers of government are to be exercised in accordance with the constitution. Parliament should demand answers from the General Legal Council on why the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee remain ignored. All well-meaning Ghanaians should support calls by the Law Students Association to demonstrate on the 7th of this month. Every citizen must join this all-important struggle for the defence of freedom and justice.
BY: BENARD MORNAH, CONVENER, COALITION FOR NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY.