By Denis Okot
Members of the Public Accounts Committee (Central) have expressed concern over the high failure rates of students at the Law Development Centre (LDC).
In the academic year 2019/2020, only 20 percent of the students passed the Bar Course, while the figure increased to about 42 percent in the academic year 2020/2021.
MPs called for a value-for-money audit to ascertain why students are failing the Shs6 million tuition bar course. This was during a meeting with officials from LDC over the Auditor General’s report for 2020/2021 Financial Year on Tuesday, November 28 2022.
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“My major concern is the high levels of students who are failing your exams; it was a big concern in the 10th Parliament and even today,” said Hon Suubi Kinyamatama (NRM, Rakai district), adding, “I wonder how a brilliant mind can lecture students who are all dull and they all fail. So where is the value for the money?”
Hon Kinyamatama said that one of the factors contributing to failure at the law school is the shrinking facilities that are failing to absorb the rising number of students following the abolition of the mandatory pre-entry exams to qualify to join LDC. Currently, there are 2,000 students enrolled at LDC for the 2022/2023 academic year.
Frank Nigel Othembi, Director, LDC, acknowledged the high levels of student failure over time and attributed it to many underlying factors including budgetary shortcomings, shortage of facilities, and individual concentration levels. He was quick to state that the law centre is doing its best and the performance has since improved in the three campuses of Kampala, Mbarara, and Lira.
“There is some improvement [in performance]; in the 2019/20 academic year, only 20 percent passed the bar course. But the last group that graduated 42 percent passed. This percentage may not look much, but given the fact that we now take on everybody [after removing the pre-entry exams], so many people will find LDC a bit challenging,” Othembi said.
Othembi said that despite the low pass rate at the Kampala campus, there is a high rate of success on other campuses in Mbarara and Lira which registered 50 percent and 45 percent pass rate respectively.
“At Kampala campus, we have a library that can accommodate 100 people, and at first, we thought it is small, but when you go there it is always empty. Students are not using it, and they are not sitting in discussion groups, but when you go to Mbarara or Lira, even at 6.00 pm students are discussing,” Othiembi said.
The acting Committee chairperson, Hon Fredrick Angura (NRM, Tororo South) pledged to persuade Parliament to ensure that the institution’s challenges are addressed to improve student performance.
“We appreciate that the demands of the institution should be considered to help it grow and indeed, a value for money audit is important. How can you have a whole bunch of dull learned friends?” he said.