Rastafarian brouhaha: Achimota School silence forces adjournment

The failure of Achimota School to respond to a suit filed by one of the Rastafarian students Oheneba Nkrabea, who was denied admission, has forced the court to adjourn the case to April 30.

At the last adjourned date, the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court had ordered the school to respond to the suit against them.

The school, however, failed to do so.

Explaining the difficulty, state prosecution said this was because the prestigious school in controversy and the Education Ministry have been wrongly sued.

Chief State Attorney Stella Badu told the court, “Achimota School cannot be sued, and it includes all schools under GES. The school cannot be sued because we represent them.”

The respondents are the Attorney General, the Ghana Education Service, and the Ministry of Education.

The Chief State Attorney maintained that the Attorney General’s office responds on behalf of the Ghana Education Service and Ministry of Education.

The court, presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo, had a contrary view.

Justice Agyei Addo said she was working with the order for all parties in the case to file their responses.

She then gave the respondent (Achimota School) another opportunity to file their responses. They are to file by April 30, 2021.

The same directive applies to all other parties named in the suit.

Meanwhile, counsel for the Rastafarian student Wayoe Ghanamannti, accused state prosecution of deliberate attempts to derail the case.

“We are not very much surprised for the Attorney General to say that Achimota School has been wrongly sued. We disagree because we don’t see the reason why that assertion must be made. The Education Ministry is a sector and oversight Ministry,” he maintained.

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 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 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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