By Umaru Kashaka
Legislators on the legal and parliamentary affairs committee have asked the management of the Law Development Centre (LDC) to check the high failure rates of the Bar Course that have plagued the institution for years because they are alarming.
This was during their Tuesday’s meeting with top officials from the institution led by the deputy director Florence Dollo over the 2014/15 national budget framework paper.
According to the guidelines set by the Law Council, to qualify for the Bar Course that leads to the award of the postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, students are required to pass written examinations to test their knowledge of the core university law courses.
The core law courses include; Legal Methods, Constitutional Law, Torts, Criminal Law, Law of Contract, Evidence and Criminal and Civil Procedure.
The MPs noted that although the centre has done a great job in offering practical training for legal practitioners in the country, they are concerned that failure rates could alienate some students from applying to join the institution.
“Have you done research about this and found out the cause because the Law Council conducts pre-entry examinations every year to get the cream of the crop, but many students continue to fail final exams? This can affect the number of new entrants,” the Mitooma Woman MP Jova Kamateeka noted.
The MPs urged management to carry out impromptu visits to universities offering law to check the contents of the subjects being taught there, noting that some content may not be up to the standards.
“Some universities churn out students who are not fully groomed. Some can’t express themselves in good English and when they get to LCD they fail exams. A lawyer is an officer of the court and if they can’t communicate very effectively, they will not be of any use during court proceedings,” the Oyam North MP, Crispus Ayena explained.
The officials informed the committee that they have made amendments in the curriculum to remove nonessential subjects like aspects of international criminal justice and intellectual property.
“We are also concerned about the products of the universities that come to us and end up failing. There are proposals that we align our curriculum with the ones of the universities and we are going to talk with the universities over this,” Dollo told the committee chaired by the West Budama MP Fox Odoi.
She further said they are going to review the passing rules to ensure they are not rigid.
“There are proposals, for instance, that if the students fail the exams, they are allowed to do two supplementary exams instead of one,” she said.
The officials also said they have proposed to the Law Council to relax on the entry rules to enable students who pass the pre-entry exams but fail to join the institution for some reasons to apply within the two years and be admitted to the centre without subjecting them to another pre-entry exam.
About three quarters of lawyers who sat their final examinations at Law Development Centre (LDC) in the last academic year failed the course.
Last year’s performance was poor compared to that of 2012/13 academic year where 104 lawyers passed out of 347 who sat the final bar course exams.