COMMENTARY DISCUSSES THE ISSUES SURROUNDING ADMISSION OF TWO RASTAFARIANS INTO ACHIMOTA SCHOOL
Article 17 (2) of the 1992 Constitution states that, ‘A person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race color, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status’. Under the same constitution, Article 26 (2) prohibits ‘all customary practices which dehumanize or are injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a person’. Indeed, the 1992 Constitution is an important tool for the protection and promotion of human rights. It enables Ghana to translate international agreements into domestic law, and obliges all branches of government to respect and ensure the rights it enunciates.
The recent brouhaha between the Achimota Senior High School in Accra and the Ghana Education Service (GES) over the admission of two young students believed to be rastafarians that has generated a lot of controversy in the country and captured by the social media is a matter of great concern to the entire country.
The GES we are told, last Saturday, March 20, 2021, instructed the authorities of the Achimota SHS to admit the two first-year students who reported on campus with dreadlocks on their hairs. The directive followed massive debate on social media after reports that the school had refused to admit the children although they had gained admission.
Many Ghanaians were not pleased with the school’s decision to admit the students even though the constitution demands that no person should be discriminated against. However, following the GES directive, the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), called on the GES to reverse the directive to the Achimota School.
According to NAGRAT president, Angel Carbonu, the directive from the GES to the Achimota School threatened conformity and discipline in schools. “We are calling on the GES to redirect the headmistress and staff of the Achimota Senior High School to ensure that the rules and regulations of the Achimota SHS and indeed, any other senior high school are abided by every student,” says Mr. Carbonu.
The GES, we are told, has made a U-turn on its earlier directive to the Achimota SHS to admit the two students with the dreadlocks. At a meeting at its headquarters in Accra, the GES rescinded its earlier directive and supported Achimota School’s policy that the kids can only come to school after taking off their dreadlocks.
Indeed, this back and forward arguments between the Achimota SHS and the GES are needless and unnecessary as it undermines indiscipline among students and generate a lot of controversy. Yes, this country is governed by a set of laws under the constitution which every Ghanaian must conform to in order to move forward in a more regulatory manner devoid of unnecessary upheavals. We must also remember that aside the constitution, there are a set of laws that regulate the operations of various establishments to bring about the needed discipline among the rank and file of the people. The GES as a state institution, has its own code of ethics besides its rules and regulations that are binding on its operation likewise the various schools that fall under its jurisdiction.
Therefore, the school authorities of the Achimota SHS are right to enforce the code of ethics and own rules that will regulates its operation and promote discipline among the rank and file of the students. There is no need for any interference in the school’s rules and regulations and the GES has no business that direction. The constitution is a regulatory instrument on our way of living all right, but sometimes it makes room for adjustments to cater for our own good and welfare.
The parents of the two students in question must obey the rules and regulations of the school by making sure that their children remove the dreadlocks so that they can be granted admission to pursue their noble objective. The mere challenge of the school authorities’ directive will not help matters but only truncate the academic ambition of their wards.
The Rastafari Council must also behave responsibly and refrain from engaging the authorities of the Achimota School in fruitless banter which is needless to the course it wants to embark on. The authorities of the Achimota SHS rather deserves commendation for stamping their authority to maintain discipline among the students and we hope other schools will emulate this shining example. This brouhaha is needless!
Written By Charles Neequaye, A Journalist