26 June 2019

Kenya: Stakeholders Step in as Mass Failures Rock Law School

A public outcry over baffling mass failures in bar exams has prompted stakeholders in the legal sector to re-examine relevant statutory laws.

They are mulling amendments to Acts establishing the Kenya School of Law and the Council of Legal Education (CLE) and other statutes.


Among other issues, stakeholders concurrently investigating the disturbing trends are looking at the training of law students and the exams taken at universities and the school of law where candidates take the exams after graduating.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK), the law school, the Office of the Attorney-General and Parliament are looking into the failures. The National Assembly has invited Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki to appear before it this week for questioning over the issue.

Meanwhile, the Senate will scrutinise claims that the exams have been turned into a commercial enterprise. And LSK will consider the possibility of decentralising the law school, following revelations that some classes were overcrowded.

In some units, sources told Nation, the student-to-lecturer ratio could be 1:400.

The school was the first to hire a consultant to look into the exam failures, the Nation has established.

Next week, officials from the school and CLE are expected to appear before the Senate Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights for questioning.


More stakeholders, including LSK, law lecturers, deans of law schools, students and parents, will also be free to give their views, committee chairman Samson Cherargei said Tuesday.

In the November 2018 bar exams, for instance, results released last week by CLE showed that 80 per cent of students from 38 local and foreign universities failed to make it to the advocates roll.

The failures have baffled observers because candidates taking the exams have already completed their law training and graduated from universities.

"This is a very serious issue because it has come to my attention that some students have committed suicide because of failing the exams. I don't have the exact number, but from next week after meeting with various stakeholders, we shall have a clearer picture," said the senator.

All stakeholders agree that legal education standards must be jealously guarded even as a solution is sought.

"We must have amendments to the KSL and CLE Act and other relevant statutory laws to ensure students' best interests and also protect the quality of legal education and the legal fraternity," said Mr Cherargei.


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