The Human Rights Court 1 Division of the High Court in Accra, on Monday, May 31, 2021, ordered Achimota School to admit Oheneba Nkrabea, the dreadlock-wearing Rastafarian boy into the school.
The Court first ordered Achimota School to admit Tyrone Marhguy, another dreadlock-wearing Rastafarian boy before delivering its judgment on Oheneba Nkrabea.
Two months ago, both students were refused admission to the school due to their hairstyle which they attributed to their Rastafarian religious belief.
The school’s only consideration to allow the duo entry was for them to cut their dreadlocks which they [students] did not budge, having been placed into the school under the Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS).
No amount of criticisms by Ghanaians, civil society organizations, and human rights activists against Achimota School compelled it to back down on its decision.
It defended its position saying, allowing deadlocked students was against the school’s rules and regulations.
Though the Ghana Education Service (GES) initially directed Achimota School to admit the students, it backtracked after pushback from the school’s stakeholders and further engagements.
In defence of the school’s decision, the Achimota School PTA said its revised rules and regulations from August 2020 indicate that students must keep their hair low, simple and natural.
Parents of the two students sued the school over the matter.
In one of the suits sighted by Citi News, the lawyers argued that their client’s rights were being violated by the school’s actions.
They wanted the court to declare that denying the student, admission because of dreadlocks is “a violation of his right to education guaranteed under Articles 25(1)(b), 28(4) of the 1992 Constitution.”
They also argued that denying them admission is a “violation of the [students] right to dignity”.
The lawyers also wanted “an order directed at [Achimota School] to immediately admit or enroll the applicant to continue with his education unhindered.”
In addition, a compensation for the “inconvenience, embarrassment, waste of time, and violation of the students fundamental human rights and freedoms”.
Delivering the judgment on the case of two Rastafarian boys, Justice Gifty Agyei Addo held that the Attorney-General failed to provide a legal justification as to why the rights of the two Rastafarian students to education should be limited on the basis of their dreadlocks.
Tyrone Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea were denied admission into Achimota School for refusing to shave off their dreadlocks notwithstanding 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 will have dire consequences on the school’s discipline, health, tradition, and community cohesion.
The Attorney General subsequently argued in Court that the Rastafarian students had not even completed or returned their acceptance of admission forms and could thus not be deemed to have been denied the 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 Gifty Adjei Addo disagreed with the submissions of the Attorney and granted all the reliefs separately sought by the students, save for the relief of compensation in the case of Tyrone Marhguy.
According to Justice Addo, it is preposterous for the Attorney General to have even suggested that the two were not students in the first place.
Justice Gifty Adjei Addo consequently directed Achimota School to admit the two Rastafarian students.