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Crime Watch / Top Stories

Admit Rastafarian student, Oheneba Nkrabea

Admit Rastafarian student, Oheneba Nkrabea

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.

Both students were denied admission to the school two months ago because of their hairstyle, which they attributed to their Rastafarian religious beliefs.

The school’s only condition for admitting the duo was that they cut their dreadlocks, which they [students] refused to do after being placed in the school through the Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS).

No amount of criticism from Ghanaians, civil society organizations, and human rights activists forced Achimota School to reverse its decision.

It defended its stance, claiming that allowing deadlocked students violated the school’s rules and regulations.
Though the Ghana Education Service (GES) initially directed Achimota School to admit the students, the GES reversed its decision following pushback from the school’s stakeholders and additional engagements.

The Achimota School PTA defended the school’s decision, stating that its revised rules and regulations, effective August 2020, require students to wear their hair low, simple, and natural.

The suit

The parents of the two students filed a lawsuit against the school.

The lawyers in one of the suits seen by Citi News argued that the school’s actions were violating their client’s rights.

They asked the court to rule that denying the student admission due to his dreadlocks is a “violation of his right to education guaranteed under Articles 25(1)(b) and 28(4) of the 1992 Constitution.”

They also claimed that not admitting them is a “violation of the [students’] right to dignity.”

The lawyers also requested “an order directed at [Achimota School] to immediately admit or enroll the applicant in order for him to continue his education without interruption.”

Furthermore, restitution for “inconvenience, embarrassment, time waste, and violation of the students’ fundamental human rights and freedoms.”

The Judgement

In her decision on the case of two Rastafarian boys, Justice Gifty Agyei Addo stated that the Attorney-General failed to provide a legal justification for why the two Rastafarian students’ rights to education should be limited due to their dreadlocks.

Tyrone Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea were denied admission to Achimota School because they refused to shave their dreadlocks, despite having passed their qualifying examinations and being selected through the computerized placement system.

Also read: High Court orders Achimota School to admit Rasta student
The school argued in court that allowing the students in would have disastrous consequences for the school’s discipline, health, tradition, and community cohesion.

The Attorney General later argued in court that because the Rastafarian students had not even completed or returned their acceptance of admission forms, they could not be considered to have been denied admission.

However, for the students, their parents, and lawyers, this was simply a violation of their fundamental rights based on their religion and religious practices.

Except for the relief of compensation in the case of Tyrone Marhguy, Justice Gifty Adjei Addo disagreed with the Attorney’s submissions and granted all of the reliefs separately sought by the students.

According to Justice Addo, the Attorney General’s suggestion that the two were not students in the first place is absurd.

As a result, Justice Gifty Adjei Addo ordered that the two Rastafarian students be admitted to Achimota School.

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