Court ruling on Achimota-Rasta students case ‘victory for rule of law’

Education think tank, Africa Education Watch, has welcomed the Accra High Court’s order for Achimota School to admit two Rastafarian boys, Tyrone Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea, who were denied admission into the school for refusing to cut their dreadlocks as Rastafarians.

Speaking to Citi News, the Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare, said the ruling is a progressive one.

According to him, this is a “victory for the right to education and the rule of law.”

“In any country where there are disagreements in relation to the position of the law, the last resort is to go to court. And so citizens going to court to pursue their fundamental human rights is the exercise of democratic rights and should be encouraged.”

“I was honestly not expecting this ruling because I have seen previous rulings by other courts in Ghana on similar issues that suggested otherwise. When the parents of the two informed the school authorities of their intention to go to court, the school actually told them that they have handled such cases before, and it goes in their favour, so they are not the least intimidated.”

The Judgement

Delivering the judgment on the case of the two Rastafarian boys, Justice Gifty Agyei Addo held that the Attorney-General failed to provide a legal justification as to why the students’ right to education should be limited on the basis of their dreadlocks.

Messrs. Marhguy and Nkrabea were denied admission into Achimota School for refusing to shave off their dreadlocks, despite the fact that they had passed their qualifying examinations, and had been selected into the school through the computerized placement system.

The school, through the Attorney General, argued in court that allowing the students into the school would have dire consequences on the school’s discipline, students’ health, tradition, and community cohesion.

The Attorney General subsequently argued in court that the Rastafarian students had not even completed or returned their admission acceptance forms and thus, could not claim to have been denied admission.

But for the students, their parents, and lawyers, this was simply a case of a breach of fundamental rights on the basis of their religion and religious practices.

Justice Addo disagreed with the submissions of the Attorney General and granted all the reliefs separately sought by the students, except the relief of compensation in the case of Tyrone Marhguy.

According to Justice Addo, it was preposterous for the Attorney General to have even suggested that the two were not students in the first place. Consequently, she directed Achimota School to admit the two students.

 

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