Story: Rueben SACKEY
Achimota School and the Attorney-General’s department have filed an appeal challenging a High Court’s ruling that the former admits some two Rastafarian students.
The boys, Tyrone Iras Marhguy and Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea had dragged the Achimota School Board of Governors, the Minister of Education, Ghana Education Service, and the Attorney General to court for refusing to enroll them with the explanation that they had to shave their dreadlocks in accordance with the school’s regulations.
However, on May 31, 2021, the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo ruled that the fundamental human rights of the two students could not be limited by the rules in question.
Justice Gifty Agyei explained that she did not think the Achimota School and proponents, including GES and the Attorney General’s Department, had made a compelling argument as to why those two students should not be admitted, especially given their rights to education as well as their rights to express their religious freedom.
But appealing the ruling, Achimota School argued that the High Court erred by indicating that the rules and regulations of the school with regard to ensuring uniformity in appearance is unlawful and interferes with one’s religious rights.
In view of this, the school is urging the Appeals Court to set aside the judgement of the High Court and order the plaintiffs to comply with the school’s regulations if they choose to be students of the school.
Backing this stance, the AG’s department insisted the judge erred in her ruling. The AG further went on to argue that, the decision by Achimota School does not interfere with the right to the education of the boys.
“The learned Judge erred when she held that the regulation of the 1st Respondent requiring that students keep their hair low amounted to an illegal and unconstitutional attempt to suspend the manifestation of the Applicant’s guaranteed freedom to practice and manifest his religion….
“The learned Judge erred when she held that Respondent’s actions of asking the Applicant to step aside during the registration process are a violation of his right to dignity especially when the 2nd Respondent had disputed the veracity of that fact,” parts of the appeal by the AG’s office stated.
In March this year, Achimota School issued admission letters to the two students but indicated that they would only be enrolled on the condition that they shave their dreadlocks in accordance with the School’s academic regulations.
However, an Accra High Court ordered Achimota School to admit the two Rastafarian students it denied enrollment.
The Governing Board of the Achimota School subsequently announced its decision to appeal the ruling by the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court, ordering it to admit the two Rastafarian students.
However, upon intervention by the Attorney General, the two students have been admitted. They participated in the end of semester examinations on Friday, June 4.