|Sunday, 1 May 2005|
Lawyers tighten screws
by Jayantha Sri Nissanka
The Incorporated Council of Legal Education (ICLE) has come up with a new set of proposals which if implemented will restrict underprivileged students entering Sri Lanka Law College (SLLC). They propose to abolish the open competitive Law Entrance Examination deviating from accepted norms of any professional institution in the world. The proposals have drawn severe fire from a host of organisations and individuals.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle openly criticised these proposals last week describing them as another move of the affluent to forestall underprivileged students from entering the legal profession.
However, the proposals go to recognise LLB graduates who have studied abroad with just three A/L passes. The Incorporated Council of Legal Education (ICLE) on February 24th decided to adopt the new criteria for selecting students to the SLLC from year 2008 mainly on the Advanced Level Z score system. The ICLE giving reasons claims that professional standard have plunged and the profession is overcrowded.
According to the new system those aspiring to be lawyers cannot enter Law College unless they sit for the A/L again and again until they get selected, because the Z Score system fixes university entrance marks based on the performance of students during the year.
An age limit of 35 years has been proposed. Therefore many teachers, clerks and other Government servants will be deprived of this opportunity to follow legal education with these amendments.
None of the professional bodies in the world set high qualifications restricting students to follow courses. They have also not fixed an age limit but have given opportunities for anybody with the basic qualification to sit for exams. For example, a student only requires three subjects with two credit passes at the A/Ls to follow Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) courses, Any student with GCE (Ordinary Level) and one year's experience or three passes at A/L can sit for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) of UK exams.
Likewise, other Sri Lankan professional bodies have stipulated only minimum qualifications. The Institute of Bankers require only O/L and two A/L subjects for students to register for exams.
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka said that any student who has three A/L subjects with two credit passes can follow their courses. Sri Lanka Institute of Architects too said that anyone with three A/L passes could sit for the aptitude test and get selected to follow their exams.
Considering 2004 A/L results, 116,675 students have passed the exam but according to the proposed Z score system less than 1,000 students can get selected to the Law College and the Law Faculty without sitting for an open competitive exam which deprives the other 115,675 students from sitting the exam and become lawyers.
Executive Director Dumidu Punchihewa of Setha Sri Lanka Development Foundation, a civil society organisation which is fighting for the rights of deprived sections of society citing an example told the Sunday Observer that even in India every University or professional body holds an aptitude test to select students to follow professional courses.
Produced by Lake House