Former Deputy Minister for Education Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is warning the current development of the Achimota School not admitting Rastafarians has the tendency to erode all the social cohesion the country has nurtured over the past many years.
The current chaotic ecosystem, he said, cannot be allowed to prevail and urged interested parties in the matter to be guided by Ghana’s history
According to him, the remarkable vision of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah in building national cohesion and cementing bonds of co-existence by the boarding school policy should be championed.
The former Deputy Minister gave the warning in a statement he read on the floor of the House on the conflict between the rights of the child and school rules as highlighted by the plight of two Rastafarian students denied admission into Achimota School.
He appealed for all parties to calm tempers and for all key actors to beat their swords into ploughshares and be willing to find an amicable resolution of the matter.
Quoting from Articles 17, 21 and 28 of the Constitution, Mr Ablakwa indicated no child should be discriminated against on grounds of religion, be denied the freedom to practice any religion or be deprived of education, economic or medical treatment for religious reasons.
These constitutional imperatives, he said, impose an obligation on all to be circumspect in fashioning policies and rules that are no injurious to the rights of children.
“Mr. Speaker, it is also trite knowledge that various educational institutions at all levels strive to maintain discipline by adopting a code of conduct, school rules, or general ‘dos and don’ts’ to regulate the school environment.
“That acknowledged, the question, therefore, must be – how do we formulate and apply school rules in such a way that they are not inconsistent with our Constitution?
“How do we ensure that school rules do not rather become counterproductive by stoking the embers of discrimination, prejudice, and hate?
“How do we ensure that school rules respect minority rights and that marginalization is not further entrenched by the unwitting codification of majority rights,” he questioned.
The North Tongu legislator called for sincere reflection on notions and understanding of the discipline and demanded how mere hairstyle militate against discipline.
“What really is the concern about dreadlocks by African students and yet there seem to be no worries about long free-flowing Caucasian hair?”
The two students and all minority students facing blatant discrimination, he said, must be admitted in the interest of their supreme welfare as the Children’s Act, Act 560 demands.
He argued that the real threat to discipline, edification, and progress in schools are not Rastafarians but rather bigoted incendiary textbooks, outmoded curriculum, poor teacher motivation, lack of investments in quality and access, poor attempts at embracing blended learning; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and Al, and an erratic double-track system.
The MP noted that he is not opposed to all rules and traditions but is opposed to those that are patently discriminatory and backward.