Achimota School

Legal practitioner, Bobby Banson says Achimota School reserves the right to insist the two students who have been refused admission because of their dreadlocks trim their hair.

Speaking on Newsnight, he said that although the law says no person should be discriminated against based on their religion, it also subjects these rights to certain responsibilities.

Mr Banson explained that for the purpose of education, the constitution leaves the welfare of persons who have not attained 18 years usually in the hand of the school in which they seek their tuition.

“Article 14 of the 1992 Constitution says that ‘Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty except in the following cases and in accordance with procedure permitted by law’. If you look at article 14 1C one of the grounds for limiting a person’s liberty it’s for the purpose of education or welfare of a person who has not attained 18 years.”

He explained that that the Ghana Education Service under its protocols have authorised the governing boards to set out the rules that govern students who are within the school.

This, he said, is why the schools have rules to regulate the activities of the children’s in the institutions, including times for sleep, in boarding schools, classes among others.

“In as much as school-going children, and for the purpose of our constitution let me say 18, have a right to certain things, once it comes to education, the institution where you seek your educational instruction from has certain powers to take away what would have been your personal liberty.”

Mr Banson said that schools have been given the responsibility by the constitution to ensure they cater for students who are 18 years and below seeking education in their institution.

The authorities of Achimota School last week denied admission to the two students who were posted there under the Computer School Placement System (CSSPS) because the rules of the school did not allow students with dreadlocks to be admitted.

According to JoyNews sources, school authorities were emphatic that unless the students cut off their hair [dreadlocks], they will not be admitted.

Many Ghanaians were not pleased with the school’s decision to not admit the student even though the constitution demands that no person should be discriminated against.

However, Mr Banson said that it will be an overstretch to see Achimota School’s refusal to enrol the two students with dreadlocks as discrimination based on religion.

He said that schools in the country especially ones with religious backings have allowed students with different religious belief in the institutions.

“There are Christian Catholic schools or Anglican school, but persons of different denominations within Christianity or even Muslims are allowed to come and there are days that they are allowed to go to the mosque.”

“If they (Achimota School) make the argument that the children are not being asked to cut their hair on religious grounds but on any other grounds, I think that argument may hold water to the extent they can justify it.”

Mr Banson added that the school could have handled the issue better so as not to have attracted the public scrutiny it has now.

Meanwhile, a lawyer with the Rastafari Council, Ras Tetteh Wayo says the (GES) has backtracked on its initial directive that instructed the Achimota Senior High School to accept 2 students with dreadlocks.

This follows the refusal of Achimota School to enrol the 2 Rastafarian students because of their dreadlocks.

According to Ras Wayo, following the GES directive on March 20, the Service called for a meeting with all the concerned parties i.e. the parents of the students and the headmistress of Achimota Senior High School.

Speaking on JoyNews earlier, Mr Tetteh Wayo revealed that during that meeting with the GES, the Service sided with the headmistress of Achimota and backtracked on their initial directive, stating that the purpose of the statement released by the Service was to quell the public outburst on the issue.