Senate starts probe into mass failure at law school

Tuesday June 11 2019

HUDUMA NAMBA

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Senator Samson Cherargei has launched the probe following a petition. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

ERIC MATARA
By ERIC MATARA
More by this Author

The Senate has launched parallel investigations into mass failure of students sitting the Bar examination at the Kenya School of Law (KSL) in the past eight years.

This comes at a time when the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) is investigating the matter.

CREDIBILITY

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Senator Samson Cherargei (Nandi) has launched the probe following a petition by Mr Elkana Kitur and Mr Abdalla Suleiman.

“We are concerned about learning at the KSL; the number of failures in the institution increases each year, thus causing suspicion on the credibility of the examinations. The mass failure has caused frustration and depression among students who are eager to be admitted to the Bar. We, therefore, demand thorough investigations into this matter,” the petition submitted to the Senate reads in part.

The committee will investigate the institution’s structures and systems. The team will seek to establish whether the examinations could be a cash cow for the Council of Legal Education (CLE), claims which the body’s CEO Jacob Gakeri has denied.

The Senate is also expected to conduct an audit of finances at the CLE and the KSL. Students pay fees for resits and remarking of exams.

The petitioners also want payment of fees for resits and remarking outlawed.

Each unit at the KSL costs Sh5,000, meaning one requires Sh45,000 for the nine units taken.

Remarking of a paper costs Sh15,000 whereas a resit costs Sh10,000.

Nominated senators Farhiya Ali Haji and Agnes Zani called for thorough investigations into the matter.

STAKEHOLDERS

“There seems to be a disconnect between the way lawyers are trained and the exams they sit at the KSL. There’s need for thorough audits,” she said.

KSL director David Mutai, in a previous interview, said exams were administered to ensure that standards of the profession do not fall.

Candidates are allowed to attempt the exams within five years.

The mass failure has previously caused uproar from students and stakeholders.

LSK chief executive Mercy Wambua Monday said they set up a committee last November to establish why more than half of the candidates fail the exams. The committee will soon release its findings, she said.

A report by a taskforce released in January 2018, laid bare the massive failure of law students seeking to be admitted as advocates of the High Court from 2009 to 2016.

The taskforce, chaired by prominent lawyer Fred Ojiambo indicated that only 7,530 out of 16,086 students who sat the bar examinations passed, 8,549 failed, translating to a failure rate of 53 per cent. 

Upon exhausting the maximum number of attempts, an applicant may be permitted to attempt the Bar examination within a further five years subject to the candidate being readmitted to the advocates training programme.