The debate on scrapping Pre-entry examinations for the bar–coarse at the Law Development Centre (LDC) is yet to come to its logical conclusion.
Parliament last year during the budget process passed a resolution to have the examinations discontinued following recommendations by the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
However, this has never been implemented by government and students have since sat for the same examinations and results were out last month.
The developments have prompted the committee chaired by West Budama South Constituency MP, Jacob Oboth Oboth to recall the discussion in the matter and has today interfaced with a number of stakeholders.
These were led by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Gen Kahinda Otaffire, the Chairman Law Council, Justice Remmy Kasule, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), the Law School and officials from the Law Development Centre (LDC) among others.
During the meeting, Oboth apologized that the committee rushed the recommendation of the suspension of the Pre-entry Exams without making meaningful consultations with Stakeholders.
“We took the decision as the committee since we had no justification of the said exams and we advised Parliament to empower LDC with enough resources and do away with the pre-entry exams,” Oboth said.
He added, “This recommendation was approved by Parliament but has since not been implemented given the fact that Parliament resolutions are advisory to government; we are now here to respond to whether the LDC Pre-entry exams are still serving the purpose with the liberalized legal education in the country.”
“In his address to the committee, the Minister, Gen Otafiire said that he has an open mind on the subject matter but believes that there is need to allow all Ugandans that have gone through a law school to practice law.”
“I was at a dilemma, at the same time I must say that pre-entry has helped to improve quality at LDC but people who have passed it still fail LDC; I then say of what value is pre-entry.”
There are inbuilt checks and balances within the LDC training programs that screen out students but as a measure to reduce congestion at LDC, we had agreed with the LDC that we should decongest the centre which has since been implemented, he added.
“We are setting up 5 LDC centres with teaching quality control, exams at the centres with the same curriculum; may be if we decongested the classrooms at LDC, we should allow the children of Uganda who have studied from different universities to actualize their training.
In any case, the best academic performers are not the best lawyers; until we have the method for controlling the quality of teaching of law in our Universities, may be allow everyone an opportunity to practice law.”
However, the Chairman Law Council, Justice Remmy Kasule noted that the issue should no longer be looked at as just a matter of decongesting LDC but a question of quality assurance.
“Pre-entry exams were not put in place to block people from practicing law; let’s look at the broader picture on the question of quality and not have a consideration that one of us or a friend didn’t pass the exams and then we should do away with it.”