Achimota School denies two ‘Rastafarians’ admission over dreadlocks

Authorities at one of Ghana’s prestigious senior high schools, Achimota, have allegedly denied two student Rastafarians admission because of their dreadlocks.

The father of one of the affected students, Ras Aswad Nkrabea, who is a member of the Rastafarian Council of Ghana, took to social media to express his frustration over the development.

The school’s Assistant Headmaster reportedly told the aggrieved father that “their rules do not allow students with dreadlocks to be admitted” and dared him to take whatever action he deemed fit against Achimota School.

According to Mr Nkrabea, he was compelled to take to social media to report the ignominious action by the school authorities.

“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.

He described the situation as a “gross human right violation” and vowed to take legal action against the school.

“As a child, he has every right to his culture in so far as such a culture does 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 for rejection by the school authorities.”

Mr Nkrabea wondered why the school was bent on blatantly violating provisions in the 1992 constitution which frowns on discrimination on the grounds of culture.

“The fundamental question to ask is what does our law say about the 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?” he lamented.

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.

Previous incident

The practice of school authorities turning away Ghanaian students with dreadlocks is on 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.

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