The Methodist Church which initially owned the Wesley Girls Senior High School before it was taken over by the state, has rubbished an order by the Ghana Education Service (GES) to allow Muslim students in the school to engage in fasting, a fundamental part of their faith.
The Headmistress of the prestigious school, Mrs. Betty Dzokoto had barred the few Muslim students in the school from participating in the religious obligation of fasting and the Methodist Church in a strongly-worded statement had backed the decision of the headmistress saying the ban on fasting in the school was a time-honored practice that has been a part of the school’s 186 years of pedagogy.
Consequently, the Methodist Church had vowed not to accede to the demand of the state-owned GES to allow the Muslim students to exercise their religious freedom.
“The Methodist Church, Ghana cannot accede to the unilateral directive issued by the Ghana Education Service and insists that the Ghana Education Education Service respects the long-standing partnership between the Government and Mission Schools,” read the Church’s statement signed by the Rt. Rev. Michael A. Bossman, Administrative Bishop, Conference Office of Wesley House.
Wesley Girls is one of many Mission schools established by the Methodist Church. It is named after its founder, John Wesley.
However, under a government policy to secularize all mission schools, Wesley Girls has been under government control
The contention arose last week when the father of a Muslim student stormed the school and demanded to take away his daughter because the school authorities were not permitting the students to fast even though it was the month of Ramadan.
The school has explained that the decision is not selective and that it is also purely grounded in medical concerns for the students.
However, the development led to a lot of criticism especially from members of the Muslim community with the government being called upon to call the authorities of Wesley Girls to order.
The GES responded by directing the school authorities to allow all students wishing to fast for religious purposes to do so but with the prior consent of their parents and caretakers.
According to the response from the Methodist Church, its leadership held an emergency meeting on the 4th of May under the Chairmanship of Presiding Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. Kwabena Paul Boafo and that the meeting took a strong exception to the directive by the GES.
“The school rule in question is a long-standing one which is also non-religious and various renowned Muslim ladies in Ghana have passed through the school adhering to such a rule. The policies of the school over the 186 years of its existence have resulted in Wesley Girls High School being the school of choice, excellence and achievement and the Church remains in full support of these policies.”
However, the GES also claimed it held extensive meetings with the Minister of Education, the School’s Board and other stakeholders before deciding to grant concessions to the Muslim students.
This is the second time in less than two months that the GES’s authority has been challenged by non-state actors in the school. The first instance was the Achimota School which refused a GES order to admit two brilliant Rastafarian students that had gained admission to the school.