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Reforming the Nigerian Law School grading system for equity

The Nigerian Law School is a prestigious institution that plays a vital role in shaping the legal profession in the country. Aspiring lawyers undergo rigorous…

The Nigerian Law School is a prestigious institution that plays a vital role in shaping the legal profession in the country. Aspiring lawyers undergo rigorous training to develop their legal skills and knowledge.

However, the current grading system employed by the school, which considers the least marks obtained in any given course, is inherently flawed and unfair.

Firstly, the grading system fails to recognise individual achievements and potential. Also, by focusing on the lowest scores, it disproportionately penalises students for a single weak performance, disregarding their overall understanding and competency in the subject matter.

Hence, this approach undermines the educational principles of holistic assessment and growth.

Secondly, the existing grading system fails to differentiate students based on their true abilities. It treats those who consistently perform well equally with those who struggle in a single course, leading to a lack of recognition for exceptional students.

This results in a homogenised pool of graduates, making it challenging for employers and legal institutions to identify and select the most deserving candidates.

Thirdly, while law students invest substantial time, effort, and financial resources in their legal education, the current grading system, by emphasising the least marks obtained, instils fear and anxiety among students. As such, this discourages them from taking risks, exploring new areas of law, or seeking innovative approaches to legal problem-solving.

It also stifles creativity and the pursuit of personal growth, hindering the development of well-rounded legal professionals.

In the same vein, the present grading system discourages students from pursuing specialised areas of law where they might excel.

Aspiring lawyers who demonstrate aptitude and passion for certain legal domains might be deterred from pursuing them if they fear the potential impact of a weaker performance in one course.

Thus, this limits the diversity and expertise within the legal profession, as well as hinders the overall advancement of the field.

However, for the purpose of reform towards creating a more balanced and equitable grading system that will address the inherent flaws and promote fairness in the Nigerian Law School grading system, a comprehensive reform is essential.

One way to achieve this reform is by Introducing a weighted average system, whereby grades are determined based on the cumulative performance across all courses, giving more weight to core subjects or areas of specialisation.

Also, by encouraging comprehensive assessments that evaluate students on multiple criteria such as class participation, research papers, oral presentations, and practical skills will help in providing a more holistic evaluation of students’ abilities, considering their overall performance rather than focusing solely on exams.

Furthermore, by establishing a robust system of remedial support for students who struggle in specific subjects, which include additional tutoring, mentoring programmes, and academic support initiatives will help to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to improve their understanding and performance.

Similarly, there is a need to foster an educational environment that promotes growth, innovation, and personal development in order to encourage students to explore diverse areas of law and take intellectual risks without the fear of detrimental consequences to their overall grades.

With all these critical issues, the current grading system used by the Nigerian Law School can be reformed through a more comprehensive and balanced approach as mentioned above, through which the Nigerian legal education system can foster an environment that encourages individual growth, recognizes exceptional achievements, and supports the development of well-rounded legal professionals.

 

Dr Zakiyyu Muhammad is the Assistant Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Ministry of Justice, Jigawa State