Mr Frank Aboagye Danyansa

An interest group, Public Interest Advocate (PIA) has raised objections to the Ghana Education Service’s (GES) decision to direct the authorities of Achimota School to admit some two Rastafarian young boys.

According to the group, the code and ethics set by the GES require students to comply with the rules and regulations of their schools, for this reason, the GES should rescind their directive and not allow the admission of the two boys into the school.

The spokesperson for the group, Frank Aboagye De Nyansa, however, says should GES fail to retract its directive, it will give room for all other religious beliefs to place their practices above the rules and regulations of their academic institutions.

“So we think that GES should come in again. They have taken a wrong decision. There are two things they can do; either they would maintain the law and allow all religions to bring their laws into our educational system or change their directive. Because on the basis of the letter from GES, they said it is a religious belief and that is what we condemn, that let us not base on religion and allow the child to go to school with that long hair,” he told JoyNews.

To buttress his point, he further explained that some religious institutions such as True Faith Church believe in walking barefooted, and asked if the GES would “allow their wards to come to school barefooted?”

He also cited a similar incident in the Volta Region, where one Galley Felix, 18, was denied admission into Dzodze-Penyi SHS because he refused to take off a religious cap after being initiated as a traditional priest in the Ketu North Municipality.

According to Frank Aboagye, the reason for his objection to the directive of the GES is in line with Article 14 (clause 1, subsection E) of the 1992 Constitution, which states that a person below the age of 18 can have his or her rights curtailed based on welfare and education.

“The constitution states clearly on article 14 (clause 1 subsection E) that even though everybody has the right as a Ghanaian, there are certain parts of the constitution, E [of article 14] that says that there are only in cases of education and welfare of the person, your right can be curtailed when you are less than the age of 18. In the case of this Achimota Rastafarian boy, he is less than 18 and has to abide by the rules and regulations and code of conduct of our educational system.

“So if currently, he knows that he can’t go to school with long hair, that is the law. And we feel that we are giving the Rastafarian religion much priority in the sense that there are so many minority religious groups that are not speaking,” he explained.

A week ago, some two Senior High School graduates were denied admission into Achimota School despite being posted to the school through the Computerised School Placement System because they had dreadlocks.

One of the father’s of the two boys, Raswad Menkrabea subsequently took to social media to register his discontent with the school’s decision; a decision he described as a violation of human right.

As a response to the ongoing debate in the media, the Ghana Education Service directed the authorities of the school to rescind their decision and admit the two boys.

Mr Frank Aboagye De Nyansa is of the belief that the GES has set a bad precedent and would in the long run create confusion in the education sector.

“There are so many religious bodies that have peculiar things they do. If we want to inculcate all these in our educational system, then we are going to create confusion. We believe that what we are doing now has a negative repercussions in the future and we think that now we would not have issues but in the future, everybody of every religious group would want to have their way in our educational system.

“If the rules of education state that you should have a short hair cut, cut your fingernails, dressed properly, then we should allow that but if other religions also believe that they should walk barefooted, would we allow their wards to come to school barefooted? We are just setting a bad precedent,” he stated.