The Executive Director of the African Education Watch says it is imperative for secondary schools across the country to follow a standardised code in their day-to-day running.
Speaking on Newsnight, Wednesday, Kofi Asare stated that this is the only way the country can resolve the issues of discrimination in second cycle institutions that have raised its head in recent times.
This follows the management of Wesley Girls’ SHS decision to not let Muslim students in the institution fast during Ramadan.
He said such instances of discrimination is a manifestation of the challenges facing the education system.
“You can’t continue running about 700 secondary schools with different rules. We need to have a standardised code for all schools irrespective of who set up the school, the school is being run on the taxpayers money.”
Mr Asare urged the Ghana Education Service (GES) to have a sit down with parents, the missions, heads of secondary schools and the Education Ministry to agree on a uniform system.
“We need to have a standardised code, in the Islamic schools, in the Ahmadiyya schools, in the Wesleyan schools, in the Baptist schools so that the issue of this is actually accepted in Benkum Snr High but not in Wesley cannot fester. That is the only way we can resolve this incongruous situation.”
Last month, the authorities of Wesley Girls SHS were accused of preventing Muslim students from fasting during the ongoing Ramadan period by a parent.
Ishmael Zakaria Alhassan stormed the premises of the Cape Coast-based school on April 26, to withdraw his ward, Bushira Ishmael from the school after receiving a call from his daughter over the school’s decision to not permit all students to fast.
The school authorities had explained to him that their reasons for not letting students, no matter their religious affiliation, fast was due to health reasons, as there were concerns of students developing ulcers because of the activity.
He, however, rescinded his decision after Bushira Ishmael decided to stay after a discussion with the school’s Headmistress on the said matter.
The issue, which was reported by JoyNews has since become a major topic with many legislators and religious leaders calling on the school to reconsider its stance as it infringes on the rights of students.
Following the reactions, the Ghana Education Service (GES) directed the management of Wesley Girls SHS to allow Muslim students to partake in the ongoing Ramadan fast.
Parents are advised that Senior High School authorities nationwide would not be held accountable for the health condition of their wards should they grant their children permission to fast, GES stated in a press release.
However the Methodist Church in a press statement had rejected the GES directive stating the school’s rule on fasting is a long-standing one. They added that various renowned Muslim ladies in Ghana have passed through the school adhering to it.
Reacting to the Church’s statement the Muslim Caucus in Parliament the response to the GES took them aback.
They said that Caucus had met with the leadership of the Methodist Church and had cordial discussion on the refusal of Wesley Girls School authorities refusing to allow Muslim students to fast.
They, therefore, appealed to “the good people of Ghana and the Muslim Ummah particularly our Muslim students and youth, to continue to remain calm as Muslim leadership continue to engage all stakeholders connected to the matter including the Methodist Church of Ghana, the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to cordially resolve the matter in the interest of our country.”
However, the Executive Secretary of the African Education Watch said he is worried the institution supposed to work under the supervision and oversight of the GES continue to blatantly disregard their instructions.
This, Mr Asare explained, means a lot for accountability within the education sector.
“More so when the said instructions are in respect of the enjoyance of constitutionally mandated rights by students, and so more or less we are discussing constitutional rights to freedom of religion and roles in schools,” he added.
“Where a supervisory body interves it intervenes in the interest of the public and not in the interest of a section of the public.So, we are taken aback by the defiant position taken by the church.”
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