By Justin Mupundu
Zambia Institute for Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE) has been wrongly accused of conspiracy: Bars many students from joining the legal profession.ZIALE’s lowest ever 2 percent student pass rate prompted many reactions. Among them, is Justice Minister Given Lubinda who had summoned ZIALE’s senior the management to his office?
ZIALE, in journalism, can be describes as a gate-keeper: Intrested in producing lawyers of quality and not quantity.
The country desperately needs lawyers of quality and not quantity of lawyers admitted to the bar: Men and women who can serve in our under-staffed justice system, and provide much-needed personal and corporate legal services.
But what are the root causes of students’ low pass rate at ZIALE? Is it the clique of teaching staff at ZIALE’s conspiracy to bar many lawyers from being admitted to the bar? Or is it the University of Zambia (UNZA)’s School of law problem?
Professional attitude, knowledge, and skills ate the most critical credentials of any profession.
ZIALE’s role is to loin the professional attitude and hones the skills of law students.
The professional attitude is identified or discovered by careers office at Secondary school level. But it is ZIALE which loins it after a 4-year stint at UNZA’s school of law.
ZIALE concentrates mostly on honing the skills of lawyers: Legal drafting, presiding over court cases, writing a judgment, analysisng evidence and interpreting law and etc.
ZIALE’s 6-month stint aims at adequately preparing students as legal practitioners. What would be ZIALE’s point to admit to the bar law students who cannot even write a Court judgment?
So the root cause of the problem is UNZA’s School of Law and not ZIALE.
UNZA’s school of law imparts knowledge during the students’ four-year stint at that institution of learning. But the current learning process at the institution cannot churn out students who would become qualified legal practitioners.
Is Justice Minster Given Lubinda aware of the 1-120 lecturer-student ratios?
The high lecturer-student ratio has greatly compromised the quality of UNZA’s legal education. How would a lecturer assess such a higher number of students and address their learning challenges?
The scenario does not provide a learning environment that enables students acquire knowledge.
The problem at ZIALE is a pep into the country’s learning institutions: from primary, secondary, tertiary to the university level.
Unless authorities address the problem or the root cause, we do not expect ZIALE to up the pass rate.
In fact, ZIALE would benefit from churning out quality lawyers than a conspiracy to bar them from being admitted to the bar.
ZIALE should instead be commended for providing the nation with the food for thought.
The author is a freelance journalist and political analyst