Shocking revelations of massive failure of students sitting the Kenya School of Law (KSL) examinations came to the fore as details of declining performance emerged.
Of the 2,000 law students who sat the exit examinations last year, only 180 passed the tests, reflecting only nine per cent excellence rate.
This means more than 1,820 law students flopped the exams, in what stakeholders’ say is ‘a waste of resources.’
The details emerged this week during a meeting between professional bodies and Commission for University Education (CUE).
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i chaired the meeting on Wednesday in CUE offices in Nairobi.
It also emerged that in last year’s examinations, there were about 800 resits.
This brings the number of students who sat the examinations in November to 2,800.
And with a total pass rate of only 19 per cent, it means that overall, only 475 law students passed.
Sources at CUE told Saturday Standard that Council for Legal Education (CLE) Chief Executive Officer Kulundu Bitonye said last year’s failure rate was the worst.
Speaking Friday, Prof Bitonye admitted that the failure rate was not a new trend and in the previous years, the pass rate has been between 20 and 23 per cent.
“That is the trend and we have never had a pass rate of 30 per cent. But nine per cent pass rate against the increasing enrollment numbers is not just shocking but disappointing as well,” said Prof Bitonye.
Kenya School of Law (KSL) Chief Executive Officer PLO Lumumba was evasive on his response to the nature of training offered to students.
“Don’t assume you can use media to mess up people’s reputation,” said Prof Lumumba.
Students who spoke to Saturday Standard said there is a huge disconnect between the law school and the CLE.
“KSL teaches the students and the exam is set by CLE. Most of the time the council does not even know what has been taught hence leading to massive failures,” said the student who had a resit last year.
KSL is the sole bar school for law students who have completed their undergraduate degrees.
The School’s mandate includes advocates training, continuing professional legal development, support services training (Para-Legal) and specialised professional legal training in public service.
Law Society of Kenya vice president Faith Waigwa said it was unfortunate, to have a 90 per cent failure rate.
She revealed that the biggest disconnect is that lecturers who teach at KSL are not the ones who set the exams.
“This is wrong because the lecturers may not have covered the areas set in the examinations,” said Ms Waigwa.
She further said the law school and CLE have never had a good relationship. “We have sent representatives to sit on the two boards. And in six months time we shall have a sitting to discuss and find solutions to this mess,” she said.
But what will shock many Kenyans is the revelation that examinations administration could be a cash cow for the institution.
“Re-sitting a paper is Sh10,000. And remarking costs Sh15,000. This means that the more failures you have the more money you generate and this is wrong,” said Waigwa.
She said trends show that those who request for remarking pass.
“How do they explain that high pass rate of remarks? The students should be refunded the money because they were not supposed to fail in the first place,” she said.
Bitonye confessed that some of the answers provided by the students are shocking.
“When you see what they write it is like they never went to a law class,” he said.
He termed as ‘unfortunate’ that parents pay fees but there is not enough tangible development on the side of the students.
Bitonye regretted that the failure affects practice of the professionals once they graduate.
“Clearly the training reflects on the quality of legal services rendered by these students in the market,” he said.
He however attributed the massive failures to poor facilities and resources.
“Some of the universities training law do not even have libraries or even working space and we have raised these issues which have never been taken up by universities and the ministry,” said Bitonye.
During the meeting chaired by Dr Matiang’i, CLE said universities are setting up law schools without proper planning.
The Council further said that there is sheer lack of distinguishing services in the legal sector.
CLE said the law programmes should answer to manpower needs in the country.
The Council also cited irregular admissions, funding and staffing as major problems in Kenya.
The meeting brought together representatives of the 22 professional bodies.
This comes as CUE and the regulatory bodies have been puling on different directions over who has the final say on accreditation of programmes.
Several students have been disqualified and subjected to pain and suffering after graduation and having their degrees not recognised by the professional bodies.
Some of the cases have moved to court, affecting students and leaving many parents distraught.
He said the insistence by the professional agencies that they would not recognise degrees from certain institutions has created anarchy that must not be tolerated.
Matiang’i has always maintained CUE is the sole programmes accreditation body and asked the professional institutions to work with it.
“It is immoral for a professional body to walk into a university and start to harass the institutions over programmes accreditation. We have a regulator. Write to them and officially complain to them,” said Matiang’i.
And speaking Friday, Bitonye said they will engage CUE in line with the legal framework.
“The big brother syndrome that CUE has always put forward will not be there anymore and we shall engage on many issues,” said Bitonye.