It is undoubtedly factual that Ghana's Legal Education is in shambles. Following the arguments of the powers that be and struggles of Law Students in Ghana from afar paints a gloomy picture for Legal Education as well as the law profession in general.
The National Association of Law Students - NALS has been in the forefront in the struggle justifying the need for reforms in Ghana's legal education through legislation. The Ghana Law School at Makola, Accra is the only accredited agency in the country the trains law professionals to man our judicial set ups over the years. These has caused serious deficit in the manpower needs of Ghana's legal practitioners as a young and thriving democracy.
A look at the 260 districts across the length and breadth of Ghana tells a rather sad story where about 40% of districts are without lawyers for the Attorney Generals Department to give legal aid and this has accumulated in mass suspension of justice metamorphosing into our prisons being congested with remanded prisoners. Justice delayed...justice denied the saying goes.
The NDC in government gave accreditation to some faculties in some Tertiary Institutions to run law in addition to University of Ghana Law Faculty given rise to number of students that graduates with L.L.B. yearly. With the increasing number of holders of L.L.B. without increasing intake into the Ghana School of Law has worsened the plight of students willing to take the professional law course and be called to the Bar.
The "ugly monster" that at stands between the aspiring law students and Ghana Law School is the ''ALMIGHTY ENTRANCE EXAMS'' which has rendered a lot of L.L.B. holders redundant. A look at the four year results for the Law School's Entrance Exams depicts a sad story;
July 2017 - 1,230 students sat for the exams,
July 2018 - 1,802 students sat for the exams,
July 2019 - 1,820 students sat for the exams and
August 2020 - 2,720.
The last straw that broke the Carmel's back was the 2019 exams where out of the 1,820 students only 128 qualified to enter into the Ghana Law School and this did not go down well with all right thinking Ghanaians in Ghana and the Diaspora. A lot of articles and petitions were tabled before the Supreme Court, General Legal Council,Parliament House as well as Office of the Chief Justice calling for reforms.Nothing fruitful has so far come out with all these engagements regarding reforms.
The National Association of Law students on October 7th decided to embark on a peaceful demonstration to register their displeasure at the results of the 2019 Law School Entrance Exams where out of 1,820 candidates only 128 qualified to enter into the Law School.After notifying the Ghana Police Service and meeting all conditions, the purported peaceful march by these harmless students turned into another nightmare in our democratic dispensation where they were severely assaulted by the police FPU without any provocation or breech of the law.They were shot with rubber bullets, sprayed with water canons, beaten, injured, arrested for the simple reason of wanting to present their petition to the Presidency.Some students sensing danger took to their heels and were given hot chase till they entered into the promises of the Canadian Embassy. The day in the history of Ghana where Ghanaians became refugees in their own country.Some of the grievances in their petition includes the following:
1.Policy should allow private candidates for Ghana School of Law exams where students can have their private tuition outside the Law School then join to write the final Law School Exams to the Bar.
2.The obnoxious Entrance Exams should be scrapped.
3.The whooping resit fee of Ghc 3,000.00 should be reduced to at most Ghc 500.00.
4.Students should be made to resit for only failed papers but not as it is now where one has to rewrite all papers even if the student scores 3 'A's and 'C' which has no any justification in any field of academia worldwide.
5.The implementation of the parliamentary recommendations by the parliamentary select committee on legal affairs.
6.Reforms that will lead to expansion of the Law School annual intake and others.
The NPP government through her agents could not help these poor students who were going through both physical and mental torture but to tell them non existing stories.Foremost was the former Chief Justice Madam Sophia Akuffo who told Ghanaians plans are far advanced to start the law village in 2020 which will give access into the Law School when she was addressing the 2019 Lawyers Called to the Bar..The 2020 budget was read by the Finance Minister but this was conspicuously missing.The two Deputy Attorney Generals Hon. Gosfred Dame and Hon. Kpemka Diok claims the Ghana Law School planned admitting 1000 students in 2019 with arrangements made with University of Professional Studies Accra - UPSA but for poor performance when only 128 students qualified.On the contrary , UPSA records shows no budget by Ghana Law School as well as contract.However during the vetting of Anin - Yeboah JSC for the position of Chief Justice revealed that the General Legal Council/Ghana Law School budgeted for only 500 students to be admitted. The long and short of this story is total disappointment from the Nana Addo led NPP in solving Ghana's Legal Education Brouhaha.
''ELECTION 2020 MANIFESTO''
The Opposition NDC with its 2020 Manifesto codename Peoples Manifesto States on page 74 under Legal Education as follows:
a. Vigorously reform and expand access to professional legal education and provide opportunities to all qualified L.L.B. holders by granting accreditation to certify law faculties to undertake professional law qualification course.
b.Review the legal professional Act in consultation with stakeholders and establish Council for Legal Education and Training to accredit certified law faculties to run the professional law course subject to the supervision of the council.
c.Establish a faculty of law in the Northern Region to serve the northern sector.
With the above postulates of the NDC Peoples Manifesto, I see a bright future for Ghana's Legal Education and the burial of the woes of the Ghanaian Law Student.
Comparably, the NPP who understands the issue better have failed to answer the calls of the National Association of Law Students - NALS thereby solving Ghana's legal education 'wahala'.The NPP have promised to increase intake by building infrastructure which is a stone age approach to the issue at hand .
Between the two political parties manifesto from where l sit, l boldly stick out my neck that the NDC stands to reform legal education through legislation and consultation with stakeholders is ''SUPERIOR''.
Kofi Badu (Esq.)