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GES directs Achimota School to admit Rastafarians

BY: Severious Kale-Dery
Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa - Director-General of the GES
Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa - Director-General of the GES

The Ghana Education Service (GES) has directed the headmistress of the Achimota School to admit two first-year students with dreadlocks who reported to the school to begin their senior high school (SHS) education.

The authorities of the school are said to have denied admission to the two students who were posted there under the Computer School Placement System (CSSPS) because the rules of the school did not allow students with dreadlocks to be admitted.

Social media was Friday awash with arguments for and against the decision of the school authorities when the father of one of the students took to Facebook to protest the school's decision.

Directive

But, later in the evening, the GES said a directive had been issued to the school to admit the students.

“We have asked her [headmistress] to admit the students. The student is a Rastafarian and if there is evidence to show that he is Rastafarian, all that he needs to do is to tie the hair neatly,” the Director-General of the GES, Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, told the Daily Graphic.

Reacting to a claim of a parent that the child had been denied admission because he was wearing dreadlocks, he said the school authorities could not say that they would not admit the children because of the dreadlocks.

“So, you cannot say that you will not admit someone on the basis of the person's religious beliefs and so, we have asked the head to allow the children to be in the school,” the Director-General stated.

Father's reaction

The father of one of the boys, Ras Aswad Nkrabeah, took to social media to pressurise the school to reverse its decision “because this is a gross human rights violation. We have no option but to battle”.

“As a child he has every right to his culture in so far as such culture do not breach the 1992 Constitution. He equally deserves the right to access education within his culture just like other cultural believers.

“As a Rastafarian, I think that dreadlocks do not in any way cause any harm which should even be a basis to be asserted by the school authorities,” he posted on his Facebook wall.

Ras Nkrabeah queried: “The fundamental question to ask is what does our law say about right to one's culture? Do you deny a child access to education based on his/her culture? Do public school rules override the supreme law of the land?” 

Ras Mubarak

Jumping to the defence of Ras Nkrabeah and his son, a former NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Kumbumgu, Ras Mubarak, said the provisions of the constitution were clear.

“No child shall be deprived by any other person of medical treatment, education or any other social or economic benefit by reason only of religious or other beliefs,” he posted on his Facebook page.

He said what the authorities in the Achimota School did constituted a breach of articles 21(1)(c), 25(1), 26(1) 28(3) and 28(4) of the Constitution, saying, “they have humiliated those kids on the basis of the kids' Rasta culture.

He further stated: “Not accepting them into the school because of their dreadlocks is degrading treatment which is frowned upon under article 28(3).”

The former MP said the school might have its rules, but those rules, and all other rules and laws were subservient to the Constitution of Ghana, which was the supreme law of the land.

“I hope the decision would be reversed in the overall best interest of the school and the affected children,” he concluded.

Ras Aswad Nkrabeah writes 👇👇👇👇 Fellow Comrades and Friends, This morning, the school authorities of Achimota School...

Posted by Daily Graphic on Friday, 19 March 2021