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Opinions Tue, 9 Nov 2021

499 law students and the GLC – Separating the facts from the fiction

1) Who are the 499 law students?

They are part of the 2,824 LLB graduates [candidates] who sat for the 2021 Ghana School of Law (GSL) entrance exams organized by the General Legal Council (GLC) through the Independent Examination Council (IEC). These 499 candidates, together with some 790 of their colleagues, passed the GSL entrance exams after obtaining the minimum pass mark of 50% and over.

However, the school decided to admit only the 790 candidates using the same minimum threshold of 50% in line with its time-tested practice. The school surprisingly refused to offer admission to the 499 even though they also obtained at least the minimum pass mark and over just like their 790 colleagues.

2) Is the 50% mark really the minimum threshold?

YES.. the minimum pass mark is 50%, and it has been 50% since the introduction of the entrance exams in 2012. All the students who were offered admissions to the GSL since 2012 obtained at least the minimum threshold of 50% at the entrance exams. The GSL and GLC have also consistently told the world that the minimum pass mark at the entrance exams is 50%.

Instances to prove that:

a) During the 2019 CALL TO THE BAR ceremony held at the University of Ghana, the Chairperson of the GLC and Chief Justice at the time, Madam Sophia Akufo, explained that the minimum pass mark at the entrance exams was 50% and has always been 50%. A video to that effect has recently been trending.

b) During the 10th Anniversary of the KNUST branch of the GSL held on 26th April 2021, the Acting Director of the GSL at the time and a Senior Lecturer of the School, Maxwell Opoku Agyemang, explained that the minimum pass mark was 50%.

c) In an interview with Asaase Radio in the wake of the 499 brouhaha on 16th October 2021, Maxwell Opoku Agyemang again reiterated the age-long position of the GSL and the GLC that the minimum threshold is a cumulative figure of 50%.

d) As further proof that the minimum threshold has always been 50%, each year, the GLC only publishes the raw scores obtained by all the candidates who sat for the exams, so that, those who obtain at least 50% from the published raw scores are automatically deemed to have passed and offered admissions.

e) The GLC, by its own conduct upon publication of the 2021 raw scores in respect of the 790 candidates it claimed had passed, actually confirmed that 50% was indeed the minimum threshold. This is because from the published results of the ‘so-called passed list’, the minimum pass mark/threshold was 50%, and as many as 8 candidates of the 790 got exactly 50% and were all admitted.

3) Was the 50% minimum pass mark advertised ahead of the 2021 entrance exams?

Technically, there was no specific mention of 50% as the pass mark in the Daily Graphic advert of May 14, 2021. But the advert, which was sponsored by the GLC and the GSL stated in Section E(5)(iii) of the publication that:

“Eligible Applicants who attain THE [my emphasis] minimum threshold mark set by the General Legal Council WILL be offered admission for the 2021/2022 Academic Year to pursue the Professional Law Course.”

What this means is that there was a minimum threshold that had been set by the GLC before the advert since the publication did not say “a” minimum threshold but rather “the” minimum threshold. So, what was that minimum threshold?

Fortunately, the Acting Director of the GSL who authorised the 2021 advert inviting applications from qualified candidates for admission into the GSL, Maxwell Opoku Agyemang answered this question, in his famous Asaase radio interview on 16th October 2021. He stated emphatically that what they meant by “THE MINIMUM THRESHOLD SET BY THE GLC WAS A CUMULATIVE FIGURE OF 50%.”

For the avoidance of doubt, this was what the Director of the Ghana School of Law said in the interview:

“...the rule of the game at least at the time I was involved, and therefore we PUBLISH the rules of the game. The rules of the game were that as always, you should have 50% in AGGREGATE SCORE. So, when 128 had 50 or more, we took them. When 1045 had 50 or more, we took them all.”

So, the question to ask is, why is it that this year (2021) when 1298 students passed the entrance exams, the law school is failing to admit them all? Why is the GLC denying admissions to the 499 candidates who also obtained at least the minimum threshold of 50% and over?

To make matters even more bizarre, there are at least 426 candidates in the 499 group who obtained more than the 50% minimum threshold with some of them getting more than 60% and yet not offered admissions by the GLC. But the GLC would offer admission to the 790 including the 8 candidates who only managed to obtain the minimum threshold of 50% in exactitude.

When in 2019 for example, only 128 candidates obtained at least a 50% cumulative mark, they were deemed to have passed and were all admitted by the GLC. And in 2020, when 1045 candidates obtained at least the 50% cumulative figure, they were also deemed to have passed and been all offered admissions.

Why should the narrative be different in 2021? Are some Ghanaians more Ghanaians than other Ghanaians? The GLC has also always maintained that space or the lack of it has never been a problem; but that, the students were just not passing.

4) Is the 2021 entrance exams advert different from previous adverts?

NO… The GSL and the GLC have consistently advertised in the Daily Graphic that candidates will be offered admission when they obtain the minimum threshold, which for all intent and purposes, is 50%, based on the time-tested practice.

As a matter of fact, therefore, all previous entrance exams adverts made by the GLC in the Daily Graphic are similar in substance and in the form of the 2021 advert. No difference whatsoever. So, in effect, the GLC uses the same advert TEMPLATE year on year in inviting qualified candidates to take the GSL entrance exams.

5) New ‘50-50 rule’ after the facts

After the candidates had written the entrance exams relying on the well-established exams criteria/rule that obtaining a cumulative score of 50% and more would automatically qualify them for admissions into the GSL, the GLC is now claiming that it has changed the exams rule.

They say they have amended the admissions criteria, adopting new criteria to the effect that a candidate must obtain at least the minimum threshold of 50% in each of the two sections of the paper.

For the avoidance of doubt, this new (50-50) exams rule was not communicated to the candidates before they sat for the exams to guide them in their preparations. It was also not communicated to them at the time they were writing the exams (say, on the question paper as part of the instruction) to influence their approach to answering the exams questions, for instance, to give EQUAL PRIORITY to the questions in each of the two Sections.

It is absolutely unacceptable to change the rules of the game after the game has been played. Such conduct is not only REPUGNANT to the rules of fairness and natural justice but also UNCONSCIONABLE to a moral society like ours.

It also makes nonsense of all the explicit provisions in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and relevant laws that enjoin administrative bodies like the GLC to act REASONABLY and FAIRLY. The GLC must respect the sanctity of the supreme law of Ghana and respect their own rules of engagement by admitting all the students who passed the entrance exams having obtained at least the minimum pass mark and over.

There is absolutely no doubt that the 499 candidates passed the 2021 entrance exams, and this has also been confirmed by the immediate past Director of the Ghana Law School, Maxwell Opoku Agyemang, in his famous Asaase radio interview on October 16.

More importantly, the learned Maxwell Opoku Agyemang also expressed his disappointment about the retrospective application of this new admissions criteria after he had confirmed that this new 50-50 rule was a mere discussion they had at the management level, and not intended to be applied to the 2021 candidates.

6) Entrance exams were not the only requirement for admissions says GLC

The GLC in point 22 of its affidavit in opposition to the suit filed by the 499 candidates at the High Court, appears to be telling the whole world that in spite of the fact that the 499 candidates passed the entrance exams, they were still not eligible for admissions into the GSL because the entrance exams “…is NOT the only requirement for admissions into the Ghana School of Law…”.

The GLC forgets that it stated in the May 14 Daily Graphic advert as a General Policy, that, “Entry into the Ghana School of Law is by Examination conducted by the Independent Examinations Committee of the General Legal Council.”

The GLC also forgets that per their own Legal Professional Regulations passed by Parliament pursuant to Act 32, (LI 2427), which is the only legal authority backing the conduct of the entrance exams, it is stated clearly that the entrance exams is the only criteria for admissions into the Ghana School of Law. So, what are they telling us today? Obviously, it is very difficult to sustain a position that is not based on PRINCIPLE, to be charitable.

Conclusion

If you are a man or woman with good conscience and yet see nothing wrong with the conduct of the GLC against these innocent 499 students, who are citizens of Ghana, then I can only leave you to your conscience to judge. If you fail to speak out against this gross injustice because you think you are not directly affected, remember that today is the turn of the 499, but tomorrow, may just be your turn, and there will be no one to speak for you. We all serve a living God, the God of TRUTH and of JUSTICE!!!

Assalamu alaikum

Alhaji Iddi Muhayu-Deen

#ForGodAndCountry
Columnist: Iddi Muhayu-Deen