Court dismisses request to merge two Rasta cases against Achimota School

Achimota Rastafarians

The Accra High Court has dismissed a request to merge the two suits filed by two Rastafarian students who were denied admission into Achimota School.

The judge, Gifty Agyei Addo, explained that granting the request will not be for the expedited nature she wants the case to run.

She said each case is distinct, and thus the judgment may vary.

At the last adjourned date, the Human Rights Division of the court had ordered the school to respond to the suit against them after they failed to do so.

The school has since filed its affidavit in opposition to the case on Friday, April 30, a situation the judge said did not afford her enough time to peruse the document.

The school is also yet to file its written submission. The case has been adjourned to May 14, 2021, to allow the school to file its submission.

The genesis of the problem

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 a public uproar, with a section of Ghanaians calling out the school for discriminating against the students.

Breach of Right to Education

The development sparked public outrage on social media, with a section of the public condemning the authorities’ actions 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 the grounds of Religion and Custom.

“And in section A, the same Act provides that no person shall deprive the child access to education.  Based on 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 earlier interview.

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 end their frustrations.

Previous incident

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.

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