The National Association of Law Students (NALS) has said the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has not shown enough commitment to professional legal education in the country.
The NALS comments come on the heels of the launch of the manifestos of the two leading political parties in Ghana the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the NPP canvassing votes ahead of the 7 December polls.
The association has indicated that the NDC’s manifesto offers hope for legal education in the country compared to that of the government.
Referring to the NPP’s infrastructure promise, the NALS in a statement issued on Wednesday, 9 September 2020 stated that it is “very sceptical that infrastructure can adequately, sufficiently and timelessly address access and year-on-year backlog.”
According to the NALS, it “knows that no significant construction can take place in 12 months compared to legislative reform, to end the year-on-year backlog and forced drop-outs” and is “disappointed that the ruling NPP government is not eager to pursue the required short-term solution of legislation, which if passed, eradicates the same issues within a short time.”
The association continued that it “did not expect the NPP not to understand the problems considering the level of engagement we had with the NPP majority in parliament, the office of the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the President of the Republic of Ghana.”
It continued further that: “In the light of past assurances and statement, which, hitherto, amounted to outright deception, NALS concludes that the NPP promise is not reflective of development, is very awkward, misleading, retrogressive, is a very weak promise, giving a cause to be very worried than excited and, therefore, neither reassuring nor justified to resolve this matter.”
Also referring to the NDC’s reforming and expanding promise, the NALS indicated that it “knows that NDC succinctly put message simultaneously gives hope and certainty, and portrays the NDC as more caring about the legal education crisis, as at least having understood and committed to resolving the problem as well as showing NDC as more interested in the horrific experience of the #RedMonday demonstration held on October 7, 2019, by law students across Ghana better than the ruling NPP.”
The NALS said it “concludes that the opposition NDC brings down legal education reform to a choice between ‘certainty now’ or ‘hope in the future.’” Noting that in the past, “under the NDC more law faculties were accredited and the campuses of the Ghana School of Law were increased from one to three.”
The law students emphasised that they recognise “the NDC promise is a strong believable promise” and has, thus, concluded that “the ruling NPP has not shown clearly enough that it is very committed to ensuring access to the professional law course in the considered opinion of NALS, the current government continues to engage in acts which are at best deceptive of its true intentions.”
The NALS, however, pointed out that the promises are just campaign promises ahead of the 2020 general elections and “may mean very little to the backlog of law students.”
The Association, therefore, recommended that the ruling NPP to “draw itself closer to law students, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General must immediately “make good the Deputy AG’s assurance in 2019 that over 1000 LLB holders were to be admitted in that academic year by the additional tuition facility obtained at University for Professional Studies Accra (UPSA) at minimum.
“Make good the assurance in response to the NALS petition in 2018 to, by policy, allow any qualified LLB holder denied admission to the GSL to become an external student of GSL, to find their own tuition and to take the qualifying bar exam within three years” and “Make good the assurance by the finance Minister in the 2020 budget statement to publish a research finding on the implication of the current restrictive policy in accessing professional legal education in Ghana.”