Reforming the Nigerian Law School Grading System: Promoting Fairness and Equity -By Muhammad Zakiyyu, Ph.D.
The Nigerian Law School is a prestigious institution that plays a vital role in shaping the legal profession in Nigeria. Aspiring lawyers undergo rigorous training to develop their legal skills and knowledge. However, the current grading system employed by the Nigerian Law School, which considers the least marks obtained in any given course, is inherently flawed and unfair. This essay explores the reasons why this grading system is problematic and calls for a reform to ensure fairness and equity for law students.
1. The Inherent Flaws of the Current Grading System: The current Nigerian Law School grading system, which bases final grades on the least marks obtained, fails to recognize individual achievements and potential. By focusing on the lowest scores, it disproportionately penalizes students for a single weak performance, disregarding their overall understanding and competency in the subject matter. This approach undermines the educational principles of holistic assessment and growth.
2. Inequality and Lack of Differentiation: 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 homogenized pool of graduates, making it challenging for employers and legal institutions to identify and select the most deserving candidates.
3. Discouragement of Individual Progress and Development: Law students invest substantial time, effort, and financial resources in their legal education. The current grading system, by emphasizing the least marks obtained, instills fear and anxiety among students. This discourages them from taking risks, exploring new areas of law, or seeking innovative approaches to legal problem-solving. It stifles creativity and the pursuit of personal growth, hindering the development of well-rounded legal professionals.
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4. Hindrance to Diverse Legal Specialization: The present grading system discourages students from pursuing specialized 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. This limits the diversity and expertise within the legal profession, hindering the overall advancement of the field.
5. Call for Reform: Towards a More Balanced and Equitable Grading System: To address the inherent flaws and promote fairness in the Nigerian Law School grading system, a comprehensive reform is essential. Here are some suggested measures:
a. Weighted Average Approach: Introduce 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 specialization.
b. Comprehensive Assessment: Encourage comprehensive assessments that evaluate students on multiple criteria such as class participation, research papers, oral presentations, and practical skills. This approach provides a more holistic evaluation of students’ abilities, considering their overall performance rather than focusing solely on exams.
c. Remedial Support: Establish a robust system of remedial support for students who struggle in specific subjects. This could include additional tutoring, mentoring programs, and academic support initiatives to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to improve their understanding and performance.
d. Emphasize Growth and Development: Foster an educational environment that promotes growth, innovation, and personal development. Encourage students to explore diverse areas of law and take intellectual risks without the fear of detrimental consequences to their overall grades.
The current grading system used by the Nigerian Law School, which considers the least marks obtained in any given course, undermines fairness, equity, and the holistic assessment of law students. By reforming the grading system to embrace a more comprehensive and balanced approach, 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