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LDC hit with fresh scandal over altered student marks, management speaks out

Kampala, (UG):- In a fast-rising scandal at Uganda’s Law Development Centre (LDC), disgruntled students have come out to accuse the institution’s management of altering their results in the recently released bar exams for academic year 2022/23.

If copies of internal correspondence, including WhatsApp chats and interviews from aggrieved students shared with this publication are to go by, a bad picture of unfairness and lack of transparency of the assessment process awaits in the public unless otherwise resolved.

The results, particularly for the Bar course, Diploma in Law, and Diploma in Human Rights, released on Wednesday, 7th February 2024, have been marred by allegations of irregularities and inconsistencies, leaving students and stakeholders questioning the integrity of the examination process.

According to the initial release, out of 2087 students who sat for the Bar Course exams, only 701 passed, while 894 were slated for supplementary exams, and 492 were reported to have failed outrightly without the right to appeal. This development raised eyebrows among students, especially concerning the fairness of the assessment process.

Further complicating matters, students discovered that the results had been altered multiple times, with discrepancies emerging in the grading system. Students who initially thought they had passed were informed of their failure, while others found themselves in the reverse situation.

Of particular concern is the case of 48 students from Mbarara Campus, who were initially declared to have passed the Bar course but were later informed of their failure in some subjects. A subsequent revalidation of results for two subjects revealed that many of these students had passed, leading to questions about the accuracy of the grading process.

Amidst the turmoil, students have expressed frustration over the lack of accountability from LDC administrators and the perceived lack of action against internal staff involved in the alleged result alterations.

Moreover, concerns have been raised regarding the learning environment at LDC, characterized by intimidation, threats, and arrogance, which has reportedly led to the deaths of students during oral examinations.

In the wake of these allegations and accusations, students demand that justice and accountability must prevail from the LDC management, further calling for the establishment of an Independent Examinations Board to oversee exams and an overhaul of the entire examination system.

Additionally, students have called on government agencies such as the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Inspectorate of Government (IGG), and anti-corruption institutions to intervene and investigate the allegations of result tampering and unfair treatment at LDC.

LDC Speaks Out

Responding to the allegations of altering students, Mr Frank Obonyo, the Senior Public Relations Officer at LDC however dismissed the allegations as untrue “there is no such a thing as a ‘scandal’ at the Law Development Centre (LDC).

“We would like to put the record straight as follows: Following approval of the results by the Management Committee on February 5, LDC communicated results to individual students and commenced its internal processes which include: receiving and handling students’ complaints and queries, administrative reviews, verification of marks by students and appeals as provided for by the respective Rules Governing the Bar Course. We also gave opportunities to students who had supplementary (retakes) in some subjects to do them and we conducted special examinations,” Mr Obonyo said in a lengthy statement.

He added; “As part of our internal processes, we conducted administrative reviews and have taken action on complaints raised by the students. We resolved issues of missing marks, reviewed written examinations for Lira Campus (Land Transactions) and our Academic Registrar has given attention and advice to students either individually or collectively. The students have also sat supplementary in categories B and C subjects. All these internal processes are ongoing simultaneously.”

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According to Mr Obonyo, LDC is not in any way targeting to malign any students. “We are determined to ensure that we provide the right services without any fear or favour. It is not true that we are giving preference to Lira and Mbarara Campuses. Some students from the Mbarara campus were invited for a meeting with the Director and Academic Registrar to verify some of their oral examination results physically from mark sheets.”

He added that for the case of Kampala Campus students, none of them was affected at all which is why they have not been invited for verification.

“We stress that we handle all our students equally with no preferential treatment to any Campus. Also, the matter that has been going round on social media claiming that LDC changed students’ marks yet they had passed is a wrong narrative,” he emphasized

As part of its internal processes, Obonyo stressed that the Examination Appeals Committee of the Management Committee directed that there should be a review of 48 scripts following successful appeals, and it approved review of Mbarara Oral Examination results in Family Law Practice and Land Transactions.

“We appreciate that bad news travels faster than wind but after the reviews, there are 56 students whose results were reviewed positively and confirmed that they had passed. The ones making news are the students who failed the examinations and we went the extra mile to show them their answer scripts,” he clarified.

The LDC Spokesperson added that in the wake of the news, the Director convened a meeting with the affected students who are from the Mbarara campus and explained to them issues affecting their results.

“They were given an opportunity to look at their physical marksheets to individually confirm their results. Review of marks is part of our quality control system even where no query or complaint has been raised.”

“When results are approved by the Management Committee and shared on respective students’ portals for confirmation and review, it does not mean that we have released them to the public. It implies that we have given them ‘provisional’ results, subject to reviews after receiving complaints, queries and our internal review processes. The final results will be released after March 22.”

After completion of all processes, Mr Obonyo said LDC will publish the graduation list which will reflect all students who qualify for graduation.

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He further emphasized that a student is not eligible to graduate until and unless he or she appears on the graduation list. “It is right that a student graduates from LDC only when they have met the minimum criteria and with the rightful results.”

“We urge students and stakeholders to wait for the outcome of our ongoing examination results management processes and desist from relying on rumours and falsehoods. For any clarity, we encourage students and stakeholders to engage with LDC.”

As the institution grapples with these allegations, the spotlight shines on its commitment to the principles of justice and equality. For the students, this is more than a battle for grades—it’s a fight for the recognition of their dedication and the integrity of the legal profession as a whole.

LDC, established under the 1970 Law Development Centre Act, continues to hold a monopoly in providing practical training for legal practitioners. It remains the sole institution offering the postgraduate diploma in legal practice.

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