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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 236
September 17, 2011

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Legal Education

Ambitious Law Dept. at Jahangirnagar University

Md. Golam sarwar

The law and the lawyers are what the law schools prepare them. In Bangladesh, over the years, there has been a considerable degeneration of academic standards within the existing law departments with little scope for innovation in the design of courses and with absence of critical approach to legal studies. Going beyond such traditional academic standards, the newly established Department of Law and Justice at Jahangirnagar University is going to create a milestone in the arena of legal education after 40 years of its inception in Bangladesh. Jahangirnagar University is the 6th public university which opens law department from the academic year of 2011-2012. It is now a known fact that the curriculum of our legal studies is aged, overburdened with the colonial legacy. The Legal curricula is neither tested nor considered in relation to the demand of people for justice, the social or distributive justice in particular. To come out from this scenario, the Jahangirnagar Law Department would create exception to reach the goal of world class education where students will move towards socially responsive legal education. A well administered and socially responsive legal education is imperative not only to produce skilled law graduates but also to create cultured law abiding citizen who are inculcated with the values of human being, legal ethics and human rights.

The Chairman of this new department - Dr. Mohammad Shahabuddin, a young, energetic and enthusiastic legal professional, shares his inspirational vision with the writer. He started his message with the belief that “law is an effective tool for any social change and our vision is to provide such a critical approach to legal studies through which future protagonists of social change will build a progressive society”.

We know our legal curricula is not people friendly and very much traditional, archaic and to certain extent obsolete. Though in terms of legal education a lot of evolutionary process has been developed but we are still within the four corners of conventional approach. Considering this, we have made our curriculum to such standard which would be very much fitting to the age, addressing the emerging realities of the legal field. Here, it is worth noting that, as a part of our goal of making our curricula in line with the international standard, JU law syllabus will be discussed by prominent jurists in a special session of the Third World Approach to International Law (TWAIL) Conference to be held in October 2011 at the University of Oregon, USA, the chairman added.

The Jahangirnagar Law Department is the second public law school (Jagannath Law being the first) in the country to adopt the semester system in line with the international standard where students can adopt our mainstream legal syllabus in a smooth way. We will try to set such standard which will develop the skills of students to understand the law and to apply the law in a given situation going beyond the approach of only memorising statues and rules of law, he notified.

Law school have not only an obligation of preparing law graduates, but also an obligation of investigating the problems of legal and justice system and devising solution to such problems. In this regard the Chairman informed that his department is much aware of this need.

Law itself is a part of the problem. Only a critical approach to law can solve the problem by understanding what the law is, where the law is, who made the law and what is their interest. For that, we have to create the necessary foundation upon which the system would develop.

About the inculcation of human rights based education in our legal education, he pointed out that the standards of human rights which we are following in our country to protect and ensure our rights are determined by some International bodies like the UN which do not always take into account our social structure, norms, and values. In this context, law students should be nurtured by focusing on parallel methods of teaching human rights. In this way, they can take the challenge of devising alternative ways of perceiving human rights standards and their relevance for social engineering.

Clinical legal education is a crucial method to link up law with the process of change, progress, development and social transformation. Through Clinical legal education students can develop real world experience, which is the best possible educational experience a law student can have. Considering this, JU law dept. introduced a non-credit but compulsory clinical legal education courses including legal research methodology and trial advocacy.

The quality and standard of legal education acquired at the law school is becoming a hindrance rather than an opportunity to create a movement towards the delivery of justice. Can the law department at JU create such a movement? If we want to see the answer affirmative, action oriented effort along with commitment and dedication is a must. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

The writer is Student of Law, University of Dhaka and working with Law Desk, The Daily Star.




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