Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The Law Development Centre (LDC), an institution that trains would -be judges, magistrates and legal counsels, is back in the news, again for the wrong reasons - examination malpractices.

What a shame! We are aware that cheating is a common phenomenon at all levels in our education system, but for the vice to assume the magnitude reported at LDC, is a disgrace to the noble legal professional.

The cheats at LDC are also an indictment of the moral decadence that is entrenched in our society. It’s common knowledge that in Uganda today, part of the adult population don’t want to work yet they want to live a lavish lifestyle! You find well built man begging for a Shs1,000 to buy a cigarette. Not that the guy is working so hard but earns so little. No- far from it. The chap is simply lazy and is addicted to handouts from his toiling peers.

These are the same people who loiter the streets from January to December doing nothing! They lurk around to mug and terrorise the unsuspecting public because they want to ‘earn’ what they have not worked for. They are not any different from the Karimojong women who are a nuisance on our city roads. They have the energy to produce very many kids whom they torture under the coldness of night life begging for freebies. Yet they can’t apply the same energy to till the land back home and fend for their offsprings. What a tragedy!

Back to the LDC fiasco. The legal profession is tailored around the important virtues of integrity, honesty and knowledge of the substantive law and specific legal procedures. The legal profession is also the custodian of our law.

As the dispensers of justice, one would have expected that integrity, honesty and fairness should be the core values held dear by those who are bestowed with the responsibility of administering justice in society. This is because justice , law and order are the most important factors for the realisation of economic and social development.

Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki, has said that advocates and judicial officials can achieve true understanding and respect only as a public response to their integrity, impartiality , and fair play . These values have to be inculcated right from school and that’s why cheating at LDC is simply inexcusable.

LDC students who cheated were not fair to their colleagues who spent sleepless nights preparing for exams. One of the subjects that are taught at LDC is that of professional conduct. There is a working definition of professional misconduct which covers an act done by a professional man/woman in the pursuit of his/her profession which ‘would be reasonably regarded as disgraceful, or dishonourable by his professional brethren of good repute and competency.” When you seek to take unfair advantage of others then you deserve no empathy from the rest of society.

That’s why the authorities at LDC must impose severe sanctions against those who facilitated the leakages and the students who benefited from the illegal act . The authorities should also review the examination–oriented education system which is basically about cram work and studying to pass examinations. This system retards and is prohibitive to progressive and industrious thinking.

In fact, LDC conducts weekly classroom assessments of students although the points gained account for a very small percentage of the final marks awarded to each student.

But changing the system alone will not help matters if those charged with the duty of imparting knowledge are not liberated from the wanton behaviour of dishonesty that is so prevalent in our society. If we are to eliminate corruption, then that battle should start in our schools.

Mr Sserwanga is a journalist and advocate

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