Lusaka lawyer Dickson Jere has explained that the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE) registered the highest number of students sitting for examinations last academic year, and as such it recorded the highest pass rate, as well as a record high failure rate.

He was reacting to social media commentaries and speculation that ZIALE had perhaps restructured it’s curriculum, thereby allowing more students to pass.

“The answer is simple. For the first time in the history of ZIALE, they had 614 students sitting for the examinations – this figure is highest ever since the institution was established. So naturally, you expect the number of those passing to go up. But again, numerically, the 314 number of those who failed represents the highest number of students failing at ZIALE. Therefore, we still have a problem with bar exams in Zambia and other countries still grappling with same problem,” Jere who is former State House Press Aide explained.

“Another reason for the purported high pass rate in the last exam is this: Some of the students who sat for these exams were attempting either 3rd, 4th, 5th and even 8th times. Some were remaining with only one or two courses to clear and therefore only wrote those papers as opposed to the entire 10 papers. This increases the number of students passing as they will only add to the cumulated courses they already passed in previous years.”

He further explained how the examination system works at the institution.

“Here is how ZIALE works; when you enroll and go through the requisite 12 months of learning, you are subjected to an exam of 10 courses or 9 for Accountants who are exempt from taking Bookkeeping and Principles of Accounts. To pass the 10 courses, you have three attempts – at first attempt if you get less than 4 courses, then you are in de novo (you start afresh). If you get 4 and above, it means you will only sit for those courses you failed. If you fail at third attempt, then you are barred from sitting again for a period of five years, and when you come back after the ban, you start afresh from zero! (Although Attorney General can exempt a student from going on five year ban on appeal),” Jere stated.

“I have looked at the list of the students who have finally cleared. Some were attempting for the 7th time and have been at it for the past 8 years! I have seen names of those who were even ahead of me at UNZA! So the 314 who have passed represents resilience and have cleared because they worked hard and not that they were favoured by some reforms. No! They deserve our huge congratulations! The above notwithstanding, I believe ZIALE needs reforms. I am yet to see what the Parliamentary Committee that was established to look into ZIALE woes have come with – the MPs even toured some African countries for comparative studies. By the way, Kenya is equally going through same debate of low pass rate at their Bar Exams. Those who sat for the November exams in Kenya, 78 percent failed!”

Jere added: “By the way, I have been told that about 100 law graduates were denied entry into ZIALE because they failed to produce full grade 12 certificate – imagine you have a law degree but without G12! How then did they enter university?”