There has been a miracle at the Ghana School of Law with over one thousand students passing this year's entrance exams marking a significant departure from what the pass rate has been in many years with the school reserved for a privileged few.
Media reports quoted sources as saying that 1045 students passed and are entering the Law School this year. But it remains unclear of the school has classrooms and lecturers to meet the high numbers.
Again, it is unclear how many LLB holders applied and sat for the exams.
However, the Youth Wing of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has congratulated" all those who passed the Ghana School of Law entrance examinations" saying the "the admission of over 1000 students this year vindicates H. E. John Mahama and the NDC's proposal to increase access to professional legal education".
The party in a statement signed by its National Youth Organizer, George Opare Addo, said "again, the numbers admitted show that the Akufo-Addo led NPP's proposal to expand infrastructure before increasing access to professional legal education shows a complete lack of appreciation of the challenges facing professional legal education".
"This doesn't come as a surprise to us in the NDC because President Akufo-Addo who is a lawyer himself is the president who has the worst record in managing professional legal education. For the past 4 years, the poor management of reforms and examinations at the law school has recorded unprecedented failure rates at the Ghana", the NDC youth wing said.
The rate of failure in the entrance exams has become a matter of national discussion prompting a promise of reforms by the NDC flagbearer former President John Mahama.
In 2019, over 90 per cent of students who sat for entrance examination failed to make the cut for admission.
Results showed that of the 1,820 candidates who sat for the entrance exams, only 128, representing 7 per cent passed.
The mass failure comes on the back of a similar failure in the Ghana Bar exams few months ago. More than 90 per cent of the 727 students who wrote that exams failed, sparking agitation amongst the students.
The affected persons marched to parliament where they presented a petition to have the General Legal Council address what they termed as a "systemic problem" at the School of Law.
Key among their concerns were the mass failure, the fees charged for resit and remarking, as well as the policy of rewriting all papers if a student fails more than 3 papers.
The difficulty in getting admission into the Ghana School of Law for the professional course to become a lawyer has provoked questions on the accessibility of legal education in Ghana.
The public has even become more concerned following recent comments by the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, which seemed to suggest that there is a deliberate attempt to limit the production of lawyers in the country.
Addressing the Bench, Bar and Faculty Conference at the Labadi Beach Hotel on the theme "The Changing Landscape in the Law – the Judge, the Lawyer and the Academic", the Chief Justice said any attempt to allow the production of lawyers without efficient control, checks and balances will be rejected irrespective of who is advocating for it.
"Those of us who have been too long on the General Legal Council, those of us who spent too long on the disciplinary committee, we have cause to worry because the kinds of misconduct are such that there is no way anybody envisaged these categories of misconduct when the Legal Profession Act was being enacted in the 1960s", she said.
Below is the NDC Statement
THE INCREASE IN INTAKE AT GHANA SCHOOL OF LAW VINDICATES THE NDC's PROPOSAL ON OPENING UP ACCESS TO LEGAL EDUCATION
The Youth Wing of the National Democratic Congress congratulates all those who passed the Ghana School of Law entrance examinations. The admission of over 1000 students this year vindicates H. E. John Mahama and the NDC's proposal to increase access to professional legal education.
Again, the numbers admitted show that the Akufo-Addo led NPP's proposal to expand infrastructure before increasing access to professional legal education shows a complete lack of appreciation of the challenges facing professional legal education.
This doesn't come as a surprise to us in the NDC because President Akufo-Addo who is a lawyer himself is the president who has the worst record in managing professional legal education. For the past 4 years, the poor management of reforms and examinations at the law school has recorded unprecedented failure rates at the Ghana School of Law. In the 2019 entrance examinations only 128 out of 1820 reportedly passed the examinations. This sparked agitations among students who took to the streets to demonstrate against The NPP government's poor management of legal education. As if that was not enough, the students while heading towards the Presidency were brutalised by the police and their leaders arrested on the instruction of the powers that be. This dastardly act was recorded in the 2019 US Human Rights report and has given Ghana a bad image. Unfortunately, one year on, not a single police officer has been held responsible for the incident. Again, President Akufo-Addo has failed to make any comment on the matter just as he has failed to take steps to address the challenges facing law students.
For the past four (4) years President Akufo-Addo looks on unconcerned when Ghanaian Students have been traveling to The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and other countries to pursue law just because of failed system that does not give them access to the Ghana School of Law.
The numerous petitions students presented to the President yielded no results.
When the leadership of law students met with him, he failed to exercise his powers under Act 32 through the Attorney General to address the challenges facing legal education.
There is no doubt that the sudden increase in intake at the Ghana School of Law this year is a desperate reaction by the clueless NPP government to the creative and innovative proposals on legal education in the NDC's People's Manifesto.
While we commend the GLC for a progressive step towards addressing the challenges of access to professional legal education we wish to state that substantive problems remain unresolved.
There are still about 3000 qualified LLB holders who do not have access to professional legal education.
Secondly, there remain systemic problems with the conduct and management of examinations at the Ghana School of Law resulting in mass failures where a good number of students are unable to graduate. In the absence of a strategic policy to address this problem, there is a high probability that the newly admitted students will just add to these numbers. These and many other challenges ought to be addressed forthwith.
There is also an urgent need to enhance closer collaboration between the General Legal Council and the National Accreditation Board to effectively regulate law facilities.
We salute the gallant students and all advocates for greater access to legal education including Professor Stephen K. Asare.
The Youth Wing of the NDC wishes to assure all qualified LLB holders and Law students (both LLB students and those at the professional level) that the key to sustainable solutions to professional legal education is President Mahama.
H.E. John Mahama and the NDC will addres all these challenges just as he did under his tenure by approving the expansion of access to legal education through the creation of additional campuses of the Ghana School of Law at GIMPA and Kumasi.
With President Mahama there's hope for law students.
George Opare Addo, Esq
National Youth Organizer.