A former Dean of the Law Faculty at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Kofi Abotsi says the problem with the Ghana Law School admissions goes beyond the question of limited spaces for candidates.
Though there has not been an official probe into the mass failures that have hit the law school at different levels, Mr. Abotsi said there were a number of gaps that needed addressing as calls for reforms increase.
“It is not a space problem. You will never address the problem of numbers forever. The problem of numbers will forever remain. The dissonance between demand and supply will always be there for high level professional courses.”
There are about 14 law faculties nationwide funnelling students towards the Ghana School of Law.
A significant amount of the students take courses in evening schools, which Mr. Abotsi feels present a problematic structure.
He argued that some of the students, with day jobs and families, that attend evening schools are unable to cope with the exertions and pressures of the course.
“If Law schools are going to operate evening schools, what should the minimum benchmark and criteria be? How do we ensure that the minimum content delivered is not only delivered but is also mastered by students through study, through application and through contact hours, among others. So it is a reform that is ongoing but there is still a long way ahead of us to go.”
The anonymity of the examiners on the Independent Examination Council also presents a problem for students, Mr. Abotsi added.
In his view, there is a lack of appreciation for differences in legal practice and legal academia.
“You have people who are setting questions and because of the principle of anonymity, we don’t know who these people are… You can be a lawyer and have zero clues about legal education.”
“We have people who are marking these exams who do not have a proper appreciating or understanding of legal curricula and they are marking probably with the perspective of practice. Students are seeing questions that do not appear to have a characterisation of a particular aspect of the law.”
Though the entrance exam has served its purpose in the past, Mr. Abotsi said it was time for the Ghana School of Law to explore other alternatives.
“By now yes, the entrance examination should have been done away with for us to have come out… with a standardized bar exam. I think by now we should have moved there,” he remarked.
In the recent entrance exam, only 128 of the 1,820 students who sat passed.
Before this, only 64 out of the 525 students who sat for the Bar exam in 2018 passed; with 284 of them failing and 177 being referred.