Maputo — The Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) has blamed the poor quality of the country's higher education for the high failure rate in the national exams that candidates must pass if they are to become OAM members (which is a pre-requisite for practicing law).
In the latest round of exams 52 per cent of the candidates failed. OAM chairperson Flavio Menete noted at a Maputo press conference on Monday that, when the results were published, a wave of inflammatory and racist criticism was directed in Mozambican social media against members of the OAM's national examinations commission.
But the real blame, he said, lay with "the poor quality of the training of jurists in the higher education institutions. Candidate lawyers sit examinations without the slightest preparation and we cannot be indifferent to this situation".
Menete added that, since the law is a profession of great responsibility, the OAM will not allow people who are insufficiently trained to practice. If they were allowed to become lawyers, he said, this would condemn their clients to serious problems, and would call into question the credibility of the OAM.
Menete believed that some higher education institutions are only interested in making a profit, rather than ensuring that the students they graduate have acceptable levels of knowledge.
He thought it absurd that a country such as Mozambique has about 50 institutions of higher education, and urged the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education to continue inspecting these bodies to ensure a high quality of graduates. (The Ministry has made repeated threats to close down institutions that do not meet the required standards).
Menete rejected all allegations that candidates could pass the OAM exams if they were interns at the offices of the examination commission members, or on grounds of racism or nepotism. The criteria used, he said, "respect the statutes of the OAM, the internship and examination regulations, and the decisions of the OAM's National Council".
He admitted that some candidates may have been taken aback by this year's change in the examinations.
The exams are divided into a written and an oral part. To advance to the oral examination, candidates must score at least 40 per cent in the written test. Previous candidates with even less than 40 per cent had been allowed to take the oral test.
This, Menete said, had led to "inexplicable" situations in which candidates who scored only ten per cent on the written test obtained 90 per cent in the oral exam and were then admitted to the OAM.
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