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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Columnist: John Boadu Kwame

Ghana Legal Council: Who is to blame for the leakage of supplementary exams?

Legal education in Ghana has come under a very serious threat under the management of the Independent Examination Committee (Board?) and the General Legal Council in recent times. The IEC will not be competent enough to organize an examination to determine who is a qualified student to enter the Law school (“MAKOLA”) for qualifying certificate has assumed a dimension that has been downplayed by the generality of the Ghanaian public. The IEC is the creation of the General Legal Council, a body charged to supervise legal education examination in Ghana.

While in the law school (faculty level) every law student is taught to understand that the court system of every country will never lie or cheat contending parties and therefore the judge in any court is supposed to be an umpire whose duty it is to listen to both sides and give an impartial and independent judgment in every given situation.

However, happenings within GLC/IEC leave a sour taste in our mouths. The reason for bringing the court scenario is that the GLC/IEC in training lawyers, should be seen to do their utmost to make sure that would be lawyers in the country, will be seekers of truth at all material times in the execution of their jobs especially in the process of lawyers being trained to become fully fledged lawyers, they should be imbibed with the necessary values and tendencies for them to seek and uphold and be able to disseminate and defend the truth for the betterment of the entire society they operate in. But that is far a cry from the truth in Ghana.

The training of lawyers has taken a different dimension as the activities of the General Legal Council through its subordinate body the Independent Examination Committee has succeeded in recent times to create a group of desperado student lawyers who by fair or foul means would want to succeed their way for the final qualifying certificate at the law school.

It brings into sharp focus the disgraceful day when on the 27th of July 2018 law students wrote the entrance awaiting the final results. Lo and behold, there was that circulation within the social media the compulsory question for the exams which was supposed to fetch 35 marks. What did we see? “The law is well settled that no one can found an action on illegal act”: ex turpi causa non-oritur actio! That is founded on the plainest principle of justice.

The exact question of the examination was out long before the actual exams and as if that was not enough it was accompanied by the marking scheme of the very exam written. The mainstream media picked the issue up and that in the circumstances forced the General Legal Council under the aegis of the Independent Examination Committee to come out with the retake of a supplementary paper, which is now the subject matter of debate.

About a week to the writing of the supplementary paper, there were yet again in circulation some twenty-three papers made up of questions and marking schemes in circulation within the social media and one of them was the question and marking scheme of the supplementary exam. GBAM!!! When the supplementary paper was taken on the 17th of August 2018 at the campus of University of Ghana there again some students were seen jubilating over the paper saying they had seen the question long ago.

For those who cracked their brains by learning throughout the night to be able to write the examination, it was a nightmare. How do you compare yourself with somebody you are competing within the same examination with limited entry placement and that somebody had had the chance of not only seeing the question in advance but had the rare benefit of getting the MARKING SCHEME for the same examination? For such students, it is going to be a done deal! We need to openly come out in the open and talk about the activities of the General Legal Council with it inefficient moribund and out of date Independent Examination Committee.

The reason is that this total silence is due to the fear of being discriminated against but that does not and will not solve the problem.

Already well-meaning students are being discriminated against due to the wanton behaviour of the GLC and the IEC. Why, you may ask me? The answer is not farfetched. If an examination is being conducted and segment of those to be tested CORRUPTLY have questions and answers to the detriment of their colleagues what then are we saying through the inefficient and moribund committee like the IEC and what do you expect?

In my preamble I did mention that lawyers are trained to be the defenders of the truth, be loyal to the law and make their dealings to be associated with impartiality without any fear or favour.

But if the same lawyers who are to be trained are able to corruptly sidestep these clear-cut values that would inure to the benefit of the profession and the society in which they live then legal education is in dire straits and at the verge of total collapse in Ghana.

No wonder the former Ghana Bar Association president Mr Amegashie has rightly hit the nail on the head during his vetting when he touched on the subject matter of corruption within the judiciary.

There are many sides to the issue. Some believe that the leakage is as a result of some people who are within the fold of the GLC and the IEC who are opposed to the entrance examination and therefore would do anything to frustrate the system of entrance examination.

Yet another conspiracy theory has it that the issue of entrance examination is to ensure that people who want to be lawyers are sifted such that only those with lawyers in their families would have the opportunity to continue the family line.

There are those who also believe that the GLC and IEC are bent on making fewer people lawyers in the country such that the good old adage of “the fewer the merrier” will be in their interest. All these are some of the theories in place due to the inefficiency of the GLC and the IEC.

Let me point out the inefficiency of the IEC in the recent examination. On the 27th of July 2018 when the entrance exams were been conducted, the paper was made up of twenty (20) objectives questions and two essays to be written. From the word go, there was mayhem in the examination hall (GCB Examination Hall,Legon) and it may apply to other examination centres as well. The two essay questions were to be written in two different booklets.

Pink booklet for question two and compulsory question to be written in dark ash coloured booklet. Before man and God, there was total confusion as many of the candidates swapped the booklets for the two different essay questions? The worse aspect is that some were asked to come after the examination for the necessary changes to be effected. How can this be possible in a well organized competitive exam? Your guess is as good as mine!

On the objective aspect of the exams, those conducting the examination did not know that the objective answer sheets were arranged according to index numbers. They shared the answer sheets haphazardly and it took students writing the examination to draw their attention that the answer sheets to the objective questions were to be shared according to index numbers.

The confusion broke out and the IEC officials needed to collect all the objective answer sheets back and then use microphone to announce for the entire examination hall to be truly severed with their correct index numbers. We are talking about hundreds of students. Such is the ugly scenario that characterized this year’s entrance examination to the law school and I want the reading public to be the judge of the entire situation.

Then again touching on the supplementary examination, the IEC said students should report by nine in the morning and by ten in the morning, the examination would have started. It went past ten in the morning the examination could not take place. The examination took off later and the problems of signing before examination also cropped leading to such unnecessary delays.

Already well-meaning Ghanaians have raised red flags so far as this year’s law school entrance examination is concerned. After the leakage of the compulsory question, why not cancel the entire examination but rather the IEC would not budge but insisted that only an aspect that leaked should be cancelled. The question is how credible is this year’s entrance examination given the fact that it is fraught with so many problems particularly the huge problem of LEAKAGE which the GLC and the IEC are very quiet about?

The supplementary examination taken on the 17th of August 2018 also LEAKED and that is a knowledge to all and sundry! And the question is: Would the GLC and the IEC still use this LEAKED supplementary exams for this year’s entry into the law school? Where is the credibility of the examination when the essence of its competitive nature has been compromised?

These are the questions on the lips of many as we await the outcome of the entire examination. The question we must ask ourselves is this: Is the GLC/IEC not out to make money at the expense of students? The reason being that for each student wanting to gain admission into the law school each would have to pay four hundred and fifty Ghana cedis (Ghc 450) multiply that by about one thousand eight hundred and fifty plus students. Is the GLC genuinely out to give the Ghanaian law student any good legal education for the growth and development of the country?

The GLC/IEC must bow their heads in total shame. The 17th August 2018 supplementary exam was written under heavy police guard which came in a very threatening manner to the campus of the University of Ghana. Why won’t the GLC/IEC do what they did? Some hooligan law students attempted to disrupt the entire examination process but the reinforcement of the police presence settled the matter. Nobody disputes police presence during exams, but the situation that occurred on the 17th of August 2018 left many students in a total state of panic and fear under an examination condition. Too bad for legal education in Ghana.

Recently the GLC has added insult to injury with a directive that all Ghanaians students who went to Rwanda to get their qualifying certificates would not be eligible to be called to the Ghanaians bar through what is called Post Call. The reason is best known to them. There are rumours too that students who acquire their qualifying certificates from say Britain and other acceptable countries would have to pay six thousand pounds(6,000) before getting their post-call.

The GLC now says through its actions that money rules and not knowledge! The GLC on daily basis has been and continue to be a pain in the neck of prospective Ghanaian law students. The hopelessness of the entire situation is that the complicity of the Chief Justice in the whole scenario cannot be doubted at all. The Chief Justice looks on and legal education is being toyed with in the country.

It did not start with the current Chief Justice it was under the former Chief Justice Her Ladyship Georgina Wood who insisted on maintaining standards that all this confusion with legal education started with the introduction of entrance examination and an interview. Has this approach been able to solve the problem of quality assurance so far as the training of lawyers in Ghana is concerned? I leave that to your judgment.

The opposition which is a government in waiting and the last resort in the fight against corruption with the law school brouhaha has been very quiet over the whole matter. You can only see occasionally some opposition members who on their own would broach up the issue on some radio or television discussions and that do not represent the position of the minority in parliament.

In fact, all were shocked when the parliamentary subsidiary legislation committee agreed to pass a legislation making entrance examination into the law school compulsory after the Supreme Court had ruled otherwise. I will not dwell on this matter for now.

But we are watching from the ‘touch lines’ the activities of the General Legal Council and the Independent Examination Committee so far as this year’ entrance examination is concerned. The action of the GLC/IEB so far as this year’s entrance examination to the law school is concerned is repugnant to natural justice, unconscionable and against all elements of equity!!!