Rasta Trumps Achimota School

-As Court Orders Admission of Rastafarian Students Rejected For Dreadlocks

The Human Rights Division of the High Court in Accra has ordered the Achimota School to admit the two Rastafarian students it denied admission on account of their dreadlock hairstyle.

In its final judgment, the court presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo, ruled that the fundamental human rights of the two students cannot be limited by the academic rules of the school and therefore Masters Tyron Iras Marhguy and Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea should be admitted with their hairstyles.

In March this year, Achimota School issued admission letters to the two students but refused them enrolment when they turned up with dreadlocks grown on grounds of their Rastafarian religion.

The school then pre-conditioned their admission on them cutting their beloved dreadlocks, a sacrifice the Rastafarians said was unacceptable. 

The Ghana Education Service (GES) had ordered the Headmistress of the school, Ms. Joyce Rhodaline Addo to admit the students, but she blatantly rejected the GES order. The GES eventually chickened out and toed the line of the headmistress, ordering the students to abide by the dictates of Ms. Rhodaline Addo.

Master Marhguy and Master Nkrabea, therefore, sued the School’s Board of Governors, the Minister of Education, Ghana Education Service and the Attorney General to enforce their fundamental Human Rights.

They asked the court to “declare that the failure and or refusal of the 1st Respondent (Achimota School Board of Governors) to admit or enroll the Applicant based on his Rastafarian religious inclination, beliefs and culture characterized by his keeping of Rasta, is a violation of his fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed under the 1992 constitution particularly Articles 12(1), 23, 21(1)(b)(c)”.

Also, they asked for, “an order directed at [Achimota School] to immediately admit or enroll the applicant to continue with his education unhindered.”

The applicant also sought compensation for the “inconvenience, embarrassment, waste of time, and violation of his fundamental human rights and freedoms”.

After the final judgment on Monday there was jubilation on the court premises, but typical of the way of Rastafari, the jubilation was simple and short.

Meanwhile, policy think-tank, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has called for the dismissal of the Achimota School headmistress for her headstrong infringement of the rights of the students.

“We call for the immediate removal of the Headmistress and the entire Management of Achimota School from office to serve as a deterrent to the other school leaders. The Ghana Education Service must take this punitive action to show that at least they are interested in protecting the rights of students in Ghana,” Mensah Thompson, the Executive Director of ASEPA wrote.

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