The Rector of MountCrest University College (MountCrest), Mrs. Irene Ansa-Asare Horsham, has called for improvements in Ghana’s legal education system, and the immediate scrapping of the entrance examination for the Ghana School of Law.
She said, “Our system of legal education has, rather than being progressive, become restrictive based on what I consider to be an erroneous notion that we have too many lawyers in Ghana”.
Mrs Horsham was speaking at the 10th matriculation ceremony for fresh students of MountCrest, which was held online (virtual) in line with the school’s strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols.
She said our system of legal education must also embrace innovative ways of teaching and learning the law, while expanding as a matter of urgency to include the greater legal profession.
According to the Rector, Ghana also needs qualified graduates that are ‘fit-for-purpose’ to fill the gaping holes in the public sector, in academia, in the administration of justice and management of law practices and train many more academics, parliamentary counsel, legislative draftsmen, paralegals, clerks and interpreters in courts, legally qualified public prosecutors, and career magistrates among others.
She noted that many law students have already chosen different professional paths for which the law degree (LLB) will be an invaluable addition, especially as trained specialists in niche areas that require a multidisciplinary approach.
“Restricting access to legal education is thus a step backwards for our development and that restriction must be removed as a matter of urgency,” she pointed out, and also stressed that, “We at MountCrest believe that the time for an overhaul of our system of legal education is now”.
The first step, she said, is to scrap the entrance examination to the Ghana School of Law immediately because that examination creates a danger of taking away the focus of law faculties from training ethically responsible graduates with a strong sense of good governance and social justice to rather focusing solely on strategies aimed at passing the law school entrance examination at the end of the LLB and in effect produces what she called, “walking encyclopaedias”.
She observed that this approach is insular and regressive and does little to contribute to the socio-economic needs of the country, adding that Ghana needs law graduates who appreciate the importance of ethics, strong research skills in knowing where to find the law and producing more knowledge, and strong practical critical thinking and analytical skills.
She said at MountCrest, the students, from the first week, are introduced to the lifelong skills of finding and applying the law, critical thinking and analysis through the school’s legal writing and practical legal research skills sessions.
The Rector noted that a clinical approach is vital to the preparation students for life. “Your cohort will therefore be the first at MountCrest to engage in our new additional approach to teaching and learning the law through our clinical legal education to be launched later this academic year,” she told the fresh students.
The Rector said the clinical legal education approach will ensure that students are introduced to learning the law with an element of practical instruction and hands-on experience in different areas of the legal profession both locally and internationally and expressed the hope that the method will be a very exciting opportunity for the students, that will set them apart when they come to utilising their LLB degree wherever they find themselves globally.
“This is why at MountCrest, we say: Start Here, Go Anywhere!”
She welcomed the students and assured them that despite the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it, MountCrest remains hopeful that with hard work and dedication, and of course technology, many of the school’s objectives, especially preparing its students for life, will continually be achieved.
She thanked the pioneer teaching and non-teaching staff and students for their hard work and dedication that have positioned MountCrest as an institution of excellence saying, “We truly aim to live up to our motto: Ut Vitam Habeant (meaning ‘That they may have life’)”.
She congratulated the alumni of the school on soaring and shining in their various and diverse fields of endeavour within Ghana and abroad.
MountCrest graduates pursuing the professional law course at the Ghana School of Law, she noted, have consistently acquitted themselves creditably.
“Our first batch of 29 students admitted to the Law School achieved high performance, scoring a 100% pass rate, with all 29 being called to the Bar at first attempt. Subsequent batches have also performed exceptionally since then.”
The most recent call to the Bar saw 58 of MountCrest alumni being called, with the prize for Advocacy and Ethics awarded to Ms. Akua Afriyie-Badu, an alumna who obtained her LLB from MountCrest with First Class Honours.
Captain Jamal Tonzua Seidu, pioneer student of MountCrest and a current member of the school’s Law Faculty, also recently graduated from the Georgetown University with a Master of Laws (LLM) in Energy and Environmental Law with double academic honours.
The Deputy Registrar, Academic and Students Affairs, Mr. Ernest Koomson on behalf of Dean of the Law Faculty of MountCrest, Mr. Kwaku Ansa-Asare, presented the matriculants and urged them to study hard in order to achieve their academic and career dreams for the benefit of Ghana and the world at large.
The Acting Registrar of MountCrest, Ms. Ama A. Akor performed the administration and subscription of the Matriculation Oath to the students.
On behalf of the students, Ms Helena Baaba Botchway said they were privileged and proud to be matriculants of, undoubtedly, one of the best private universities in the country, producing the best brains for Ghana and the world at large.
“We have no doubts in our minds that we have made the right choice. The future ahead of us is certainly bright with this choice,” she added.
“We commit to live by the rules and tenets of the university as we embark on this all important journey to success. We commit to assist management to continue to make MountCrest a beacon of quality education,” she pledged on behalf of the students.