Judgment Day: Court ruling on case between Rastafarian students and Achimota School

The dreams of two Rastafarian students to attend Achimota School lies in the hands of Justice Gifty Agyei Addo of the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court who will deliver her judgment on the matter at 2:00pm Monday 31st May, 2021.

Over two months ago, Achimota School refused to admit two students with dreadlocks Tyron Iras Marhguy and Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea due to their refusal to cut their dreadlocks.

The two students were posted to Achimota School by the Computerised School Placement System but the school authorities claimed it is against the rules of the school to admit students with dreadlocks.

The school came under intense criticism over this decision with some describing the decision as backward. The Ghana National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) supported the decision of the school.

The Ghana Education Service (GES) subsequently ordered Achimota School to admit the students, but later made a U-turn on its stance.

In the heat of the social media debate, Tyron Marhguy went to seek admission at his second choice of school, Saint John’s Grammar but was again refused admission because of his dreadlocks.

Directing his suit at the Board of Governors of Achimota School, the Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Education and the Attorney General, the two students are urging the court to among other things make “A declaration that requiring Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea a child and adherent of the Rastafari religion and creed, to either cut his hair or forfeit admission into Achimota School, a public senior high school, is a violation of his rights to dignity…contrary to articles 15 and 28(3) of the Constitution, 1992 and section 13 of the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560)”.

The students are praying for “An order directed at the respondents herein to permit Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea [and Tyron Iras Marhguy] a child and adherent of the Rastafari religion and creed, to enter Achimota School for the purpose of completing registration formalities and to begin academic work; and an order of perpetual injunction directed at the respondents herein either by themselves, their agents or assigns restraining them from further violating the rights of Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea a child and adherent of the Rastafari religion and creed.”

The Attorney General’s Department argued before the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo, that schools under GES could not be sued.

According to Madam Stella Badu, a Chief State Attorney, because Achimota School was under GES, the Board of the School did not file a response to the suit, hence A-G’s representation.

The Court, however, ordered that, the Board of the school file their reply within four days after being served Court’s proceedings.

The AG also raised a preliminary legal objection to the capacity of Marghuy to initiate the action of suing the parties.

Mr Dame, who moved an application on the capacity of the plaintiff, said the applicant could not institute such an action against the School in the first place.

But on Monday 31st May, the court will deliver it’s verdict on the issue.

Father of one of the two boys denied admission by Achimota School over their refusal to cut their dreadlocks, Ras Aswad Nkrabea says he is confident, the Human rights division of the Accra High Court will order the school to admit the rastafarian students.

“I have been clear from the beginning, that I am expecting that the Constitution will rule and reign. That the rights of the child, the rights to religion and so on will be upheld. Because it is clear in the Constitution”, he stressed.

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