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Parliament orders govt to expedite cancelling of pre-entry exams

The Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in session. (PHOTO/FILE)

KAMPALA – Parliament has approved a recommendation by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee urging government to expedite scrapping off of pre-entry exams at the Law Development Centre (LDC).

In their report to Parliament on the ministerial policy statement of LDC, the Committee noted that much as Parliament resolved in 2018 to end the practice of students doing pre-entry exams for admission to the Bar course, in an effort to increase access to legal practice in the country, the said exams are still going on because the exams are contained in the Advocates Act.

It should be recalled that when the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr. Kahinda Otafire appeared before the Committee recently to present the ministry’s policy statement, he was tasked to explain why LDC was still conducting pre-entry exams to the bar course, a question he blamed on Law Council’s insistence to have exams.

Ms. Margaret Apinyi, the Secretary Law Council, told MPs that pre-entry exams to the bar course will continue because they are provided for in the Advocates Act and the only way the pre-entry exams will be halted is if the law is amended.

She explained: “Until the law is amended, pre-entry should go on because the minister said they are working on the policies, as it is, do we do away with the law? The law provides for pre-entry until the law is amended there will be pre-entry.”

With the Committee realizing that the policy has continued because it’s provided for, in the Advocates Act, they need the ministry of Justice to provide amendments into the law with Mr. Jacob Oboth, the Chairperson Legal Committee telling Parliament: “The Committee recommends that the government expedites the process of amending the Advocates Act in lieu of abolishing pre-entry exams to the Bar Course.”

In fact, the report blames the pre-entry exams on failure by LDC to collect its target revenue because the admission on the Post Graduate Bar Course was affected by the pre-entry conducted by the Law Council were out of 2200 applicants that sat pre-entry examinations for academic year 2018/2019, only 513 passed which affected revenue collections.

The Legal Committee further made a case for scrapping off pre-entry exams stating that the failure by LDC to meet its revenue collections left some of the institution’s activities unimplemented like the construction of perimeter wall which activity was not undertaken due to the reduction in NTR collections resulting from less students being admitted for the Bar Course.

The Committee called on government to prioritize funding LDC in the coming budget to enable the Centre provide adequate services to the legal profession and society at large as well as implement Parliament’s recommendation of providing UGX2.5b for the first phase of the construction of a multistoried academic block in FY 2018/19.

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