Frank Nigel Othembi.
The Director of Law Development Centre (LDC), Frank Nigel Othembi, has said that out of the 15 Universities accredited to leach law in Uganda, only 4 are teaching law the way it should be taught, leaving the rest to play catch up game.
He said, “The issue of quality begins way before they get to LDC. There are 15 Universities accredited to teach law and honestly, not all of them are doing it. Because in my view, out of the 15 Universities, there are only 4 that I can say are teaching law in the law it should be taught. For the interest of peace, I will not mention them here.”
Othembi made the shocking revelation while appearing before Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee where he had led the LDC to defend the 2022/2023 ministerial policy statement.
He cited an example of his daughter who expressed interest in pursuing law but gave her a list of only four Universities she should choose from to pursue a course in law and succeeded at securing a place at Makerere University.
“I said it is okay, but here is a list of four Universities, these are the only universities I will accept you to go study law in as Director of LDC, I said anything else, I don’t want,” remarked Othembi.
He also decried the explosion in number of students following the lifting of pre-entry exams to the bar course, revealing that the decision saw students who for the last 10years had been locked out of LDC, suddenly take up the opportunity join the Centre, seeing the numbers of bar course students rise from 600 in previous years to 2000, on top of the 1000 students on other programs.
He said, “I think with the coming academic year, the numbers will be more stable, but even with the stable numbers, we are talking about 1200 to 1500. So it is still a big number, we need to discuss, can the market accommodate that number. I think we have only 3000 practicing advocates currently or should we encourage lawyers to do other things? Just by the numbers alone is really having an impact on our ability to deliver and on our resources.”
According to LDC, 572 students enrolled on the Bar Course at Kampala Campus, 606 Mbarara and 296 in Lira bringing total to 14,74 and of these, 529 were females.
John Teira (Bugabula North) commended LDC for standing firm when the institution was attacked for the high failure rates amongst bar course students, urging the management not to compromise on quality.
He said, “Thank you for the commitment and standing firm when you we attacked by social media professors about the failure rates at LDC. I am not sure whether these comments come from people who have gone through LDC but mostly those who have never been there and I followed your response and I think that is how it should be. You either fit in or not and that should be the minimum standard.”
It was revealed that in the last academic year, LDC had only 10% students passing outrights the rest had supplementary or other issues and about 30% failed the bar course.
Othembi informed Parliament that the alarming failure rates among bar course students isn’t unique to Uganda but students in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana are going through the same trend, with Tanzanian School of law registering only 5% pass rates.
He however warned that LDC’s performance will be hampered by the Shs4.31Bn budget cuts which will affect payment of lecturers because the LDC employs 105 part time lecturers who are paid Shs150,000 per hour taught.
Othembi said that although the Centre had projected to collect revenue to a tune of Shs9.450Bn, only Shs7.189Bn was collected with students of Kampala and Mbarara Campus yet to clear their fees.
In the 2022/2023 national budget, LDC has been allocated Shs29.573Bn.