The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has backed Achimota School over the dreadlocks-wearing students who were denied admission.
Addressing the press in Accra on Monday morning, the President of the Association, Angel Carbonu said “conformity is part of training”.
The Ghana Education Service in a statement ordered the school to admit the students.
However, NAGRAT disagrees with the directive of the service.
“When you go to any senior high school everything that is done is aimed at ensuring discipline. NAGRAT disagrees totally with the position of GES and we are calling on the Ghana Education Service to redirect the headmistress and masters of Achimota School to ensure that the rules of the school and indeed any other school is obeyed by every student,” he said
According to him, parents must know every school has its own rules and regulations, and therefore, prospective students must apprise themselves of the rules before applying to such schools.
“They should read the rules and regulations of each school before they allow their children to apply to such schools” he added.
Mr. Carbonu insisted that human rights are better to ensure in an environment of rules and regulation.
“The school has the right to make rules for its students” he noted.
Citing a Jamaican court ruling in 1985, he said a court ruled that “since the child is a minor, the child ought to obey the school rules”.
“We cannot turn our school into an amorphous deregulated institution where people’s whims and caprices hold sway.The school is not a fashion environment, it is not an environment to exhibit one’s religious beliefs, the school is an environment for training” he noted.
A parent of one of the affected students, Ras Aswad Nkrabea, took to social media to express his frustration over the development.
“The school authorities denied two brilliant dreadlocked students from being admitted, after having been posted there by the Computer School Placement System. My son was one of the affected children and the other student was also refused on the same grounds,” the disappointed father narrated in a Facebook post.
This generated public uproar with a section of Ghanaians calling out the school for discriminating against the students.
Breach of Right to Education
The development has sparked public outrage on social media with a section of the public condemning the actions of the authorities at Achimota School.
The Executive Director of the Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare, vehemently condemned the decision of the school to deny the Rastafarian students admission.
Article 25 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana establishes the right of the Ghanaian citizenry to have access to equal educational opportunities and facilities.
Mr. Asare pointed out that the authorities at Achimota School have breached this provision of the constitution.
“The issue of education being a right is explicit in Article 25 of the 1992 Constitution… Section 3 and 8 of Act 560, explicitly states that no person shall discriminate against a child on grounds of Religion and Custom.
“And in section A, the same Act provides that no person shall deprive the child access to education. On the basis of Article 25 of our constitution and its attendant regulations in the Children’s Act, no agency in this country has the right to deprive a child of the right to education.
“They’re wrong. I’m not the one saying they’re wrong. The Act of Parliament, Act 560, Section A is saying they’re wrong because they have discriminated against the child and denied the child his right to education,” Mr. Asare said in an interview monitored by theghanareport.com.
It is almost an annual ordeal for Rastafarian families to be denied admission into second cycle institutions due to their dreadlocks.
Kofi Asare charged the Rastafarian Council of Ghana to go to court to put an end to their frustrations.
“It’s been happening over the years and anytime it happens, it ends with threats of court action and that’s it. I’ll encourage the Rastafarian Movement to this time, take their threats of court action to the court.
“Until we have the Rastafarian Council seeking an interpretation in the Supreme Court, and testing the legality and Ghana Education Service (GES) code of conduct under which schools keep turning away and depriving children who are Ghanaians their right to education, this will continue,” he said in an interview on Accra-based Starr FM.
The practice of school authorities turning away Ghanaian students with dreadlocks is an old one.
In September 2017, a teenager was denied admission into Accra Girls Senior High School because she had dreadlocks.
According to the father, his daughter is a Rastafarian and it was against their religion to cut off the locks.
The distraught father said efforts to explain issues to school authorities proved futile.
He was convinced the school’s decision to deny his daughter admission is borne out of ignorance.