Scandal Hits Law School Admissions Again

Scandal Hits Law School Admissions Again

Scandal Hits Law School Admissions Again

The year 2021, has not been spared the perennial trouble with admissions into the Ghana School of Law (GSL), with reports that authorities there, are involved in selective recruitment of students, whether they passed the entrance exams by the General Legal Council (GLC) and its affiliate, the Independent Examination Council (IEC) or not.

There are reports that, although some 499 students out of the 1,289 applicants have met the eligible 50% minimum requirement set by the GSL, they have not been considered for admission into the law school, setting the state for the GLC led by the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah, to be accused of lack of transparency and dishonesty.

The GLC, is indicted of not explaining the propriety of a new criteria it has adopted in this year’s admission, overlooking identifiable errors in the results from the entrance exams, missing students’ index numbers, as well as the non-admission of some students who had indeed passed the exams in accordance with the new criteria.

The controversy has sent out the Member of Parliament; Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor of South Dayi Constituency of the Volta Region, describing the conduct of the GLC, as offensive to the spirit of openness, accountability and transparency accustomed to such institutions.

Reports available to The Herald is that, 499 students who were not in the records of the three campuses namely; University of Ghana- Legon, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), but paid some monies and were made to write the exams.

Also read: 2,034 students fail entrance examination at Ghana School of Law 

Additional reports are that, some two secret bank accounts were opened by GLC with payments made into them by some students to sit for the exams.

Other reports were that some did not write the exams as they were not in the records of schools, but has been offered admissions.

Some others were said to have passed their Part 1 exam, while others didn’t.

There is another category of students who interestingly, wrote the exams, but without index numbers.

Mr Dafeamekpor’s colleague, Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu of the Madina Constituency in Accra, has also waded into the matter with a petition to the Speaker of Parliament, demanding an investigation into the matter.

The two MPs on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who are lawyers on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, are not alone in this crusade.

The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) of the GLS and the Private legal practitioner and Professor of Accounting, Stephen Kwaku Asare, are also interested in the matter.

While the SRC is about to petition Parliament to look into the matter, Prof. Asare, has already petitioned the GLC to release the raw scores of candidates who sat for this year’s law school entrance examination, insisting that he “will call on the Special Prosecutor to investigate the matter and prosecute all those involved in any such abuse of their public office.”

Mr Dafeamekpor, in a statement he issued yesterday noted that the recent release of results of the 2021 law school entrance exams by the GLC and its affiliate, the IEC “and the controversy same has generated is concerning and deserves national attention”.

He explained that “the initial results released by the GLC on the 28th of September suggested that 790 out of the total examinees of 2,824 met the entry requirements.

However, a further release by the GLC of all exams results after public pressure would suggest that 1,289 examinees met the minimum pass requirement of 50% in keeping with the known pass standard for all previous entrance exams conducted by the GLC”.

“It is most bizarre therefore that 499 of the 1,289 have not been considered eligible for admission into the GSL when indeed they scored a minimum of 50% or better”, the MP said.

According to him, “in attempt to explain this inconsistency of not admitting the 499 students, the GLC, through its director further released a notice on its Notice Board, setting out what clearly is an afterthought, and setting out an est post facto rationalization of the inconsistency.

In the said notice, the director purports to set a previously unknown new standard of a pass of 50% in each of the two sections A and B in the exam”.

This, he said “is strange given that all examination rules and pass criteria ought to be made known to examinees prior to, but not after the exam is written. It is so strange to observe, for instance, that the afterthought notice allows a student with 50% of total exam score to be admitted, whilst her colleague with 69 or better is rejected”.

The North Dayi MP, said, “the GLC has not explained the propriety of the new criteria, the subsequent released results contain errors, missing Index Numbers and some students who indeed have passed in accordance with the new criteria and yet have not received admissions.

The conduct of the GLC offends the spirit of openness, accountability and transparency accustomed to such institutions, adding “… it is discriminatory and leaves no space for procedural fairness.

He demanded “first, that all 499 students who have passed with the ‘minimum of the pre-determined criteria of 50%’ be immediately admitted without further delay”.

“Secondly, a public enquiry should be conducted into this year’s law school entrance exams to ascertain the level of arbitrariness and lack of transparency”.

“Thirdly, the future of Professional Law training ought to be pragmatic in allowing pre-qualified Law Faculties to run the professional law programme whose students would be admitted into the Ghana Bar upon sitting and passing a one-off Ghana National Bar exams”.

“Some of the students who attained as high as 61 marks are denied admission while some other students had 50% and are given admission, adding “it’s pertinent to note that, the Students were not given any prior information of any criteria as brought out by the Director of the Law School prior to the Examinations”.

He insisted that “the future of the Ghanaian youth and in particular, those desiring to enroll as lawyers ought not to be jeopardized by relying on the tools of prejudice, capriciousness and discrimination”.

Law students

The Private legal practitioner, Kwaku Asare, who has over the years called for a review of the admission process noted that making the raw score available is in the public interest to avoid rumour mongering.

He explained that the results released by the GLC for this year’s entrance examination, saw some 790 candidates representing 28% of the 2,824 total candidates passed, however, he has had recourse to call for the release of candidates raw scores, considering the implication that over 72% would have failed to gain 50 marks in the examination.

“The entrance exam had two parts. Part 1 was 20 questions Multiple choice worth 40 points. Part 2 had 2 essays each worth 30 points for a total of 60 points. “I studied the scores of the 790 candidates that were released. I found that all the candidates scored 30 points or higher on part 2. They then scored enough on the multiple-choice to get them 50 or higher.

“This then means that none of the 2,820 candidates who took the exam got less than 30 points on part 2 and made the so-called “pass list”.

“This, of course, can happen but the chances of observing such a score profile in an exam taken by 2,820 is rare indeed.

“We have to believe that no candidate got, as one example, 26 out of 60 on part 2 and 24 on part 1 to get an overall score of 50.

“Anyway, for the avoidance of doubt and in the public interest, I have today filed an RTI to the GSL to release all the raw scores immediately,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

He clarified that his request did not include the names and index numbers of the candidate, saying “as I note in the request, I demand raw scores of all candidates who took the 2021 entrance examination, broken down by scores on the (1) Multiple Choice Questions, Multiple Choice Questions x 2, Essay Question 1, Essay Question 2 and Total of ((Multiple Choice Question x 2) + Essay Question 1 + Essay Question 2).

“I do not seek the candidates’ names or index numbers. Just a raw score of all candidates.”

Professor Azar, further justified his course by stating that he had a legitimate interest in the validity of the grading system used by the GLC for the examination.

“I am a researcher and have a legitimate interest in the validity, reliability, and grading accuracy of the entrance examination.

“I have no interest in which candidate had a particular score; my interest is in just seeing all 2,820 raw scores to assess the entrance examination, adding “It is also in the public interest to release this information to avoid rumour mongering.”

As to what he intends to do if his suspicion is proven right, the legal practitioner, said if it happens that a candidate obtained 50% or more and was omitted from the list of students who passed, he “will call on the Special Prosecutor to investigate the matter and prosecute all those involved in any such abuse of their public office.”

The SRC of the Ghana Law School on its part, said it will be petitioning Parliament on Thursday, October 7, 2021.

In a press release signed by SRC Secretary, Safo Kwame Oheneba, the students group said it is engaging the management of the school over the development.

“The Students Representative Council of the Ghana School of Law has been following developments with respect to the Ghana School of Law entrance examination which was administered in August 2021. The SRC recognizes the grievances of students and currently has in its possession the raw score of students who sat the exam.

“The President of the SRC, Mr Wonder Victor Kutor, is currently in a meeting with management with respect to the issues. The outcome of the meeting will be communicated in due course,” the Council stated.

Subject to the outcome of the meeting, the SRC in the press release stated that it will hold a press conference on Thursday, following which a petition will be presented to the parliament of Ghana.

The Ghana School of Law has over the years become known for recording mass failures in its annual entrance examinations.

However, according to some critics, this development is not due to the inability of candidates to meet the requirements, including passing in the entrance exam, but has been largely due to capacity constraints and refusal by the GLC to open up legal education in the country.

The Madina MP in his petition to the Speaker of Parliament dated October 5, 2021, said the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, is best placed to investigate the matter as the Committee with oversight responsibility over Legal Education in Ghana.

Mr Sosu, wants the committee to ascertain whether or not the pass rates and scores are based on actual performance of students during examination or as a result of lack of available infrastructure to accommodate the excess numbers, adding an investigation into the matter will be in line with the principles transparency and accountability and effective separation of powers as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.

Source: The Herald

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