Senior Vice President of IMANI-Africa, Kofi Bentil is of the view that although the Ghana School of Law has been of great assistance to produce lawyers in the country, it has outlived its usefulness.
According to him, the institution’s current practice of conducting entrance examinations, which he considers unconstitutional continues to deprive the country of potential lawyers.
Speaking on JoyNews‘ Newsfile, Saturday, he noted that the system only serves as an avenue for the reputable institution to extort money from members of the general public who have decided to chart the legal path as a profession.
“This country needs more lawyers. The Ghana Law school has outlived its usefulness. We are restricting the production of lawyers to the capacity of the Ghana Law School and that doesn’t make sense. Especially also because, there are other institutions that are better resourced than the Ghana School of Law to train lawyers.
There is nothing special about the training of lawyers beyond the training of doctors, accountants and other professional courses for which we should restrict it all to one small school and continue to oppress people unconstitutionally by basically, extorting money from them for re-marking and all kinds of situations.
“The examination board has all kinds of questions around them,” he said.
His comments come after reports indicated that out of 2,824 students who sat for the exams, only 790 of them passed representing approximately 28 per cent.
Two thousand and thirty-four LLB candidates who sat for the 2021 academic year Ghana School of Law 2021 Entrance Exams failed.
Following this, some media outlets such as 3news.com have reported that 65 per cent of those who failed the exams have been called to the Gambia Bar.
In response to this, Mr Bentil noted that the number of passed students could be far from the truth. He believes that the Ghana School of Law simply admitted the number of students its facility could contain and the current data has nothing to do with the quality or performance of applicants who sat for the exams.
“I don’t believe that statement coming from the same people who are perpetrating the illegality on our colleagues. The issue is if you are using an examination system to determine who qualifies, that itself is unconstitutional. The point is if you are using an examination system that is transparent, you better make sure that examination is truly an examination and we don’t see that.
“How is it that the people who passed just seem to be about the number the Ghana School of Law can admit. And I insist, UPSA, the University of Ghana, there are a number of institutions here which have better capacity than the Ghana School of Law and can do this work and do it well,” he stated.
He, therefore, urged persons against such a system to continue to stand up and have these challenges fixed.
“We who are at the forefront of these things must continue to speak up and have these anomalies fixed. We are sending our kids to Gambia and all kinds of places unjustifiably. So the earlier we fix this problem the better.
“Those of us fighting it in the courts, we have had so many meetings and I can tell you, in private meetings, almost everybody including some of the people in power to fix this problem agree with us. It is in public they have different things to say. There has to be better leadership in that area.
“There is no excuse why we should have a few people going to law school and becoming lawyers,” he told host Samson Lardy Anyenini.
Sharing similar concerns was the Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress, Sammy Gyamfi and Researcher at the Faculty of Law of the University of Cambridge, Oliver Barker-Vormawor.
Also on the show on Saturday, Mr Gyamfi described the current situation as “unfair, unjust and improper.”
According to Oliver Barker-Vormawor, data before him shows that the standards of law students have not fallen, hence the present discussion on failure to admit more law students can only be based on access and space to admit them.
“Let us remember that historically in the law school, and this is prior to the introduction of the entrance exams, the failure rates at the law school itself were consistently lower than 20 per cent in each class. Now after the introduction of the entrance exams, the failure rate in law school has not dramatically changed. So it becomes difficult to claim that we in a time of such unprecedented fall in the standards, in terms of LLB graduates when we know for a fact that, the fail rate at the entrance exams is dramatically higher than the fail rate in the school itself. So it is about access, it is not about the quality of students we have now.
“A couple of years ago, we had 128 people out of 1820. That is a pass rate of 7 per cent. Now, I saw a data that somebody had done to track the journey of the 128 people and that is the class that was called to the bar this year, 103 of them were called to the bar. That is the pass rate of 80.5 per cent. 7 per cent and 80.5 per cent, it tells you that we really do not have a flop in quality,” he explained.
For him, such actions will continue to undermine the self-esteem of applicants and their mental health unless it is resolved.