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Dreadlock students vs Achimota School saga: Chronicle of events that led to the landmark ruling.

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Dreadlock students vs Achimota School saga: Chronicle of events that led to the landmark ruling. 46

 

 

Tyrone Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea should be getting ready to go to school at the Achimota School now, if they haven’t already, following the landmark ruling buy the Human Rights court in Accra in their favour, against the directive of the school to deny them admission on grounds of their hairstyles.

But, how did we get to this point?

Friday, March 19, 2021

On this day, it was reported that a beleaguered father had called out one of Ghana’s elite secondary schools, Achimota School, over what he describes as ‘gross human right violation’ after the institution allegedly refused his ward admission.

Raswad Menkrabea, while sharing his ordeal on Facebook, alleged that authorities of Achimota School rejected his dreadlocked son with claims that ‘their rules do not allow students with dreadlocks to be admitted.’

He furthered that his son together with another boy were rejected after they were posted to the school by the Computer Placement System this year.

“The school authorities denied two brilliant dreadlock students from being admitted after having been posted there by the Computer School Placement System. My son was one of the affected children and the other student was also refused on the same grounds. We have no option but to battle against this gross human right violation,” parts of his post read.

As a Rastafarian, Mr Menkrabea maintained that his son had the right to any culture of his will once it did not breach the 1992 Constitution.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

The Ghana Education Service (GES) directed Achimota School Senior High to admit the two first-year Rastafarian students denied admission after reporting to school in dreadlocks.

The Director-General of the GES, Prof Kwasi-Opoku Amankwa, disclosed that the Rastafarian students would return to school.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) declared support for the position of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) in the national conversation over the admission of students with dreadlocks at the Achimota school.

NAGRAT argued students cannot be allowed to ignore school regulations on the basis of their religious beliefs.

“One does not understand why people want to turn our schools into deregulated institutions where people’s whims and caprices hold way. The school is not a fashion environment, the school is not an environment to exhibit one’s religious beliefs. The school is an environment for training and conformity is part of training,” NAGRAT President Angel Carbonu said at a press conference Monday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Many users online, especially on Twitter, poured out their varied opinions on the matter, many disagreeing with the position of the school.

The question many of them raised was whether or not this was an infringement of the basic rights of the dismissed students, and if the subject of qualification and abilities shouldn’t be prioritized over their lifestyle, and in this case, their hair styles.

A new angle to the subject was why Rastafarians who are Africans are denied admission based on their dreadlocks, which is part of their culture and religion, whilst students from European countries are admitted into the school, without these same rules.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Nikita and Amrita Marhguy, the two siblings of Tyrone Marhguy, the Rastafarian who was denied admission by Achimota, were at risk of being sacked from St John’s Grammar School, should they not cut their dreadlocks.

This was after some old students petitioned the school to have the students trim their hair or be removed from the school.

Ras Marhguy, the father of the ‘victimized’ students revealed the plight of his children after a meeting between him and the management of the school stating that the girls who had already been granted admission had been sent a message that they report to school the following day with their parents.

Friday, 26 March 2021

In Parliament, Members were torn between their views on the matter.

On Thursday, March 25, 2021, a debate ensued on the floor of Parliament with MPs from both sides commenting on the matter.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Member of Parliament for North Tongu first raised the issue, intimating why the school erred in its decision to reject the students.

“Let us not through school rules introduce apartheid regime albeit via the backdoor. This is the reason I will condemn statements to the effect that Rastafarians should build their own schools… Tolerance and accepting unique identities at that age cannot be inimical in any educational system,” he said.

He added: “We need to rethink our concept of discipline in our schools. Getting pupils and students to appreciate diversity and beauty of different backgrounds, beliefs and creeds do not undermine discipline by a stretch of the imagination. Tolerance and accepting unique identities cannot be inimical in any educational system. It is rather an awesome positive quality to imbibe in our children.”

The position held by Okudzeto Ablakwa was shared by former Deputy Minister for Interior James Agalga, Mr Sam Nartey George, MP for Ningo Prampram and Dr Abdul Rashid Pelpuo, MP for Wa Central with all of them calling on Parliament to take decisive action on the matter and direct the schools to admit the students.

Standing in the opposing corner was the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu who did his very best to rope in the smoking of marijuana in an issue that according to some Ghanaians bothers on the inalienable rights of the students to education.

He implicitly stated that there is an unbreakable cord between Rastafarians and the substance which he maintains is illegal in the country.

He further stated that religion should not be introduced in the argument as it further ‘complicate’ things for the students.

The MP for Bekwai noted that obeying school rules and regulations does not amount to denying education rights.

“…but I also get worried about the attempt to rope in Rastafarianism as a religion. If we do then we complicate the matter for the young man. The reason is this, if you study Rastafarianism, it involves the smoking of weed, it includes the smoking of weed and weed is an illegal substance. It is not a substance that is permitted to be smoked.”

“Indeed, if you recall, one of the persons that have been brought before this house for contempt of parliament was the person claiming to be a Rastafarian who went on air to say that MPs smoked weed. He was brought to this house, he was put before the privileges committee and he was found guilty of contempt of parliament, and he was made to apologize and told to go and sin no more.”

He added, “so, I think that reference to religion and so on will complicate the matter for the young man. If you look at it from the point of view that Achimota school has the right to prescribe a way of dressing, appearance including hairstyles. If you look at it plainly from that point of view, we can discuss the matter across the board.”

Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, the Member of Parliament for Bosomtwe and Minister of Education had the last bite of the cherry, offering not to pick sides on the matter.

Yaw Adwutwum stated that Achimota School was founded on the principle of inclusion and that principle must at any time prevail.

He also announced plans by the government to issue guidelines to address matters like the one being discussed.

Monday, 12 April 2021

The Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo dismissed an ex parte injunction application from one of the Rastafarian students who were denied admission by the Achimota Senior High School.

The interlocutory injunction filed on April 6 was for enforcement of the fundamental human rights of the applicant.

The applicant, Tyrone Marghuy wanted a mandatory injunction order to be served on Achimota School to admit the applicant for him to attend classes pending the final determination of the substantive matter.

But the court said the applicant failed procedurally on both interim injunctions which were to last for 10 days or interlocutory injunction which was to last throughout the hearing of the case.

Friday, 14 May 2021

The Attorney General Department challenged the capacity of Tyrone Marghuy in resorting to the court to seek the enforcement and declaration of his right to education.

The AGs department raised a preliminary legal objection of the capacity of Marghuy to initiate the legal action, stressing that the applicant has no capacity to institute this action.

The AG argued that, the applicant had failed to submit the admission forms based on which he can be deemed a student of the Achimota School.

May 31, 2021

The Human Right division of the Accra High Court ruled that Achimota School committed an illegality in rejecting two Rastafarian students Tyrone Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea on grounds of their hairstyle.

The court has thus, ordered the school to immediately admit the students and allow them pursue their education.

The two, Tyrone Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea were denied admission by the school despite being placed there by the Computerized School Selection and Placement System.

Efforts to have the school backtrack on its decision proved futile, forcing the parents of the students to file separate cases at the Human Rights Court 1 Division of the High Court.