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General News of Friday, 13 December 2019

Source: ghananewsagency.org

MPs advocate national conversation on legal, medical education

Parliament on Thursday expressed concern over mass failures at the Ghana school of Law entrance examinations and delay in completing that Law House project which started about nine years ago.

The issues came up as the House debated the annual budget estimates for the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice, and finally approved GH¢136.6 million budget projected for the office for the year 2020.

Stressing the importance of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms and human rights, contributors called for a national conversation on the future of legal and medical education, and appealed to the Ministry of Finance to provide an additional amount of GH¢4 million to make up for the required GH¢10 million in the course of the year 2020 to complete and protect the Law House Project.

Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South Haruna Idrrisu, implored the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, “Leader, do something.”

The Ghana School of Law this year recorded another case of mass examination failure only months after a similar one was witnessed which saw more than half of the candidates for the Bar exams failing.

This time around, the mass failure, recorded at the entrance exams had only 128 of the nearly 1,820 prospective students, reportedly passed the entrance examination.

More than 90 percent of those who sat for the entrance exam failed to obtain the requisite marks to secure admission.

The results showed a sharp decline in the numbers admitted into the School in previous years.

In 2017, 500 students were admitted into the School, slightly higher than the 450 students in 2016.

The situation generated a public outcry over legal education in Ghana and with some persons calling for a thorough probe into circumstances leading to such volume of failures annually.

Affected persons marched to Parliament, and presented a petition to have the General Legal Counsel 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 re-sitting 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.

Continuing his contribution, the Minority Leader stressed that it was very necessary to have the Law House project completed, a position which was earlier shared by Mr Kobina Tahir Hammond, MP for Adansi Asokwa.

Majority Leader Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu queried why a certain amount of the Internally Generated Funds by the Registrar General’s Department should be capped at 16 per cent when Parliament had not approved such practice.

He said it was within the mandate of the House to amend estimates presented to the House.

Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker, who was in the chair advised that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to “collect, retain and report” on the funds.

Other issues concerning the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice was the need to undertake pavement works on the premises of the Accra office and the Attorney General’s Office to go solar as analternative source of power to save the high cost of electricity bill.

The Committee lamented the continuous low funding to the Office and urged the Ministry of Finance to provide additional funding to the Legal Aid Commission possibly a supplementary budget in 2020 to augment its Investment Vote of GH¢1,000.000.00.

The House also approved the Budget estimates of GH¢360.168 million for the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources; GH¢106.12 million for Ministry of Inner City and Zongo Development; GH¢745.887 million for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection; among others.

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