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The Core Issue Law Students Have With the Recent LDC Graduation

I watched the investigative report by Canary Mugume on LDC. I have striven to avoid commenting on all things LDC. But the silence is not worth it. Twitter has been awash with conversation about the report by NBS TV. The conversation seems to be about the failure rates at LDC. Whereas that’s one of the issues to investigate, it’s neither the most emergent, nor the most imminent. Let me explain.

I am a former LDC student. I graduated on the 11th of June 2021 with a first-class diploma in legal practice. I also emerged the best student in Civil Litigation. So, if everything is as should be, why am I aggrieved?

We started LDC on the 23rd of September 2019 and finished our clerkship on the 9th of April 2021. To pass LDC, one had to score at least 50% in all subjects. How are those subjects graded? They are graded out of 100. LDC employs a cumulative assessment model.

What does that mean?

It means that almost all exams are graded out of three sets of exams

  • Individual assessments -20%
  • Oral exams- 30%
  • Final exams – 50%
  • Total – 100%

A student’s marks in each group are tallied and are computed out of 100

The last written exam that is assessed on the model above was written on the 2nd of December 2020. More than 6 months ago.

LDC released a list of students who had passed on the 2nd of June 2021, at 8 pm. The list simply indicated who had passed and who had failed. LDC promised to give us the results of our exams by the 5th of June 2021 but those results were not forthcoming. To sort out the issues, LDC admin organized a zoom call on Monday 7th June 2021 where they said results would be available for all on the 9th June 2021.

This did not happen.

LDC continued and graduated students on the 11th June 2021 without giving them marks. I graduated without knowing what I had scored in any of the subjects I passed. Still, other students did not graduate but didn’t know what they had scored in the subjects they failed. LDC communicated that they would send the results individually to all students in a two-week window begin on the 15th June 2021. This means LDC committed to send results 5 days after the graduation of students.

Why should any institution graduate students and send them their results later? Why shouldn’t results precede graduation?

Today is the 6th of July 2021 and I, and many other students have not got their results. Is there an answer from LDC?

No.

In this message, the deputy head bar course seems to suggest that LDC does not have a complete record of results for all students.

So the question, with respect, is what was the basis for the graduation. If a record of all student marks in all sets of exams is not available, what arithmetic was depended on to determine that student x passed or failed, or that he scored this mark or not.

When results are released, a student has three options

  1. Verification (which means applying to see the script and the marking guide to see how he or she was graded)
  2. Appeal the result
  3. Re-sit the exam

The option a student chooses depends on what they scored. If a student scored 49, they will most likely choose to appeal than re-sit or choose to appeal first and where the appeal fails, re-sit. The rules provide that a student may apply to verify their results in 7 days, appeal after a verification in 7 days and have a decision in 30 days. This means that, as a minimum, a student can challenge their results in a 44-day window.

LDC released a final graduation list (not results) on 9th June 2021 and graduated students on 11th June 2021, two days later. This means that a student could successfully challenge their results but never graduate with their cohort because graduation preceded their right of appeal. Still, many students still do not appear on both lists of those that failed and passed. How are they to know what to do?

The mess at LDC is not about pre-entry or teaching styles or zoom. At least not right now. The mess at LDC is about results and nothing else. The situation at LDC boils down to these simple questions

  1. Is a student entitled to results from their exams?
  2. Is a student entitled to get those results in time, if at all?
  3. Is a student entitled to challenge those results where they are allowed to do so by the rules?
  4. If a student is examined in three different sets, is that student entitled to a breakdown of what they scored by set?
  5. If previous academic years obtained detailed results in time, can the next year be prevented from obtaining results without prior notice?
  6. Is the assertion that students are many a viable excuse for irregularities in results?
  7. Is a student entitled to a timely correction of irregularities in their results?
  8. Is an administration entitled to release results after graduation?
  9. Is the assertion that students are many a viable excuse for a long delay in providing them with their results?
  10. What is a student to do where they are promised their results two weeks after graduation and have not received them to date?

So, yes, there might be other structural issues. They are important and we do not dispute that. But can we focus on the fact that these students want to get their results, know what they scored and choose what to do from there? This is all LDC students are asking for. They are asking for their results. Everything else can be discussed after those results are available.

This is my very humble submission.

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What do you think?

Written by Rushongoza N Begumya

I am a lawyer with a good understanding of Ugandan and East African Community Law. My interest areas are litigation, banking, insolvency, Technology Law as well as International and Domestic Trade Law. My other interests are political economy, public policy discourse and public interest litigation.

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