LDC pre-entry exams to continue after govt backtracks on ban
While scrapping pre-entry exams for Law Development Centre, government had argued that the institution itself would ably filter those who cannot qualify to practice law as they would fail but now it says consultations informed a stay of execution
EDUCATION | The government has backtracked on its earlier position to ban pre-entry examnations for the Law Development Centre (LDC) admission with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs insisting that the exams have to go on.
In May 2018, Parliament passed a resolution ban pre-entry exams at LDC deeming the exercise as discriminatory.
The decision of Parliament followed a recommendation highlighted in the report by the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the 2018/19 Budget and Ministerial Policy Statements for the Law Development Center where MPs called for increased funding to LDC to enable the institution concentrate on opening up new outlets across the country, so as to de-congest LDC.
While tabling the report, Jacob Oboth, the chairperson of the Legal Committee, told Parliament that the main purposes of establishing pre-entry exams to the Law School was to deal with high number of students that had expressed interest in taking up Law, but with the de-congestion plans, there was no need for the pre-entry exams.
'I was convinced to change my mind and we agreed to do further research, more consultation and then come back to Parliament to present our findings and see whether our position is tenable, sustainably or we should rethink.'
During the debate, Justice minister Kahinda Otafiire defended the move to ban LDC pre-entry exams telling Parliament that the issue had been subject to debate at the ministry, and that it was agreed to de-congest LDC on grounds that the classes at had ceased serving their purpose and had turned into rallies.
At the time, Otafiire wondered how LDC can have a class of 1,000 students and 800 fail. He also questioned if the problem is with the students or the teachers.
“We had a discussion and came to a conclusion that the classes were too big for the teachers. Because a class of 1000 isn’t a class, it is a rally,” Otafiire argued in May.
The minister said that although the Ministry agreed to introduce pre-entry exams to limit the entry as mode of selection, the decision didn’t sit down well with him, because it was unfair.
“The process of training within LDC is the filter. You are filtered from day one to the time you graduate, if pre-entry was the panacea, how come people who pass pre-entry fail? How come people who pass pre-entry get retakes?” Otafiire asked rhetorically.
However, while interfacing with the Legal Committee Thursday morning, the Justice minister said government had agreed to have LDC conduct the pre-entry exams.
He explained: “I know we took a position on the removal of pre-entry exams and you know I strongly defended that position in Parliament, however, I had interface with members of the Law Council and teachers of LDC and there were very serious issues put across.”
“I was convinced to change my mind and we agreed to do further research, more consultation and then come back to Parliament to present our findings now and see whether our position is tenable, sustainably or we should rethink,” Otafiire said.
But despite his explanation, MPs were adamant and took time to buy the argument with some saying the programmes are already approved by National Council for Higher Education and called on the ministry to sort their issues with the Council, instead of compelling students to pre-entry exams.
The minister, however, insisted that the checks at LDC are needed to ensure quality of lawyers.