Makerere University’s final-year law students want the Law Development Center (LDC) to create a specific intake for them. The application deadline for the LDC bar course is September 10, 2021.
Makerere University’s last law students, on the other hand, have an entire semester to go before they can apply for the bar exam. Lawyers in Uganda must have a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice before they can practice law. LDC is the sole approved institution in the country that conducts the bar course, having been established in 1970.
The finalists wrote to LDC last week through Grace Waiswa, the president of the Makerere Law Society, requesting special attention, but it was in vain. Learning institutions have forced to adjust their timetables as a result of the lockdowns since the COVID-19 outbreak broke out in Uganda in March 2021. The students would have finished their Bachelor of Law graduate programme in May under normal conditions.
However, on June 7, 2021, shortly after the finalists concluded their semester one examinations, the president ordered another lockdown of all educational institutions. Since then, the students have been counting down the days until their second semester begins on August 30, 2021, when they will finish their final academic year at Makerere University.
Waiswa claims that, due to these unavoidable conditions, the law school administration will be unable to provide lectures, administer exams, and release results within the remaining time before the LDC enrolling deadline. To be qualified for the bar course, a student must have satisfactorily finished their Bachelor of Law undergraduate program, according to LDC.
Deans from other universities are obligated to send the center the names of successful law students. Since its inception, the institution has had a single September intake for all universities. Makerere University was the sole institution having law students supplying the center at the time.
More law schools have joined along the road, including Uganda Christian University, Islamic University of Uganda, and Kampala University, among others. The fact that LDC received applications from other universities before the deadline is a threat to Makerere University students who believe their chances of getting into a special intake are jeopardized because the university can function without them.
Uganda Christian University, for example, has two campuses, one in Kampala and the other in Mukono, where law students are taught. Unlike Makerere University, these institutions required their students to take online exams during the lockdown, and they were able to meet the LDC’s eligibility requirements.
Maurice Okirya, a final-year law student at Makerere University, criticizes the administration for its inaction on the issue.
Another student, Marion Kirabo, expressed dissatisfaction, claiming that the COVID-19 lockdowns have extended the length of their course. In her situation, a four-year university study could take up to six years to complete.
Another finalist at Law School, William Mandela, is upset that much of their attempt to get the university to help mediate negotiations with LDC in order to give them particular attention has been in vain.
Professor Christopher Mbazira, the Principal of Makerere University’s Law School, recommends students to focus on finishing their courses. “For the time being, stress about finishing semester II; LDC will work out at the appropriate moment,” he says. According to him, the Law Development Center has sole authority over the ultimate decision.
The Executive Director of the LDC, Frank Nigel Othembi, has acknowledged that the petition from the students has been received. He claims that the petition is being investigated by their admissions board. LDC is a self-contained institution with the authority to make its own admissions choices.