“Our public schools have always tolerated religious rights. Achimota allowed Major Boakye Gyan to practice his “ancestral worshipping religion”, says Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare a.k.a Kwaku Azar.
Major Boakye Gyan, a former student of Achimota, was a former military officer and a member of those who spearheaded the June 4, 1979, coup d’état.
“I attended Catholic schools and they allowed students of other faiths to practice their religion. This accommodation was not only right but it was an important lesson on tolerance to us,” Azar wrote on his Facebook timeline.
“Quite apart from religious tolerance, our schools have also accommodated students’ health needs. Kwabotwe [Mfantsipim School] allowed Tsatsu Tsikata to smoke asthmatic cigarettes. Allowing Rastafarians to wear their dreads will not interfere with any educational objective.”
He further pleaded with his fellow old students to intervene in the matter so that the rich history of the school can be preserved by saying, “My Akora brethren must impress on the current administration to be a little tolerant in keeping with the rich history of the school.”
Authorities of the Achimota School in Accra had on Thursday turned home the dreadlocked students, asking their parents to cut off their hair or find another school for them.
The news has since caught national attention.
But after public outrage, the Ghana Education Service (GES) on Saturday instructed the authorities of Achimota School to admit the two first-year students who reported on campus with dreadlocks.
Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, Director-General of GES, told the Daily Graphic: “We have asked her [headmistress] to admit the students. The student is a Rastafarian and if there is evidence to show that he is Rastafarian, all that he needs to do is to tie the hair neatly.”
But the GES on Monday, 22 March, backtracked on their earlier directive.
Following the GES directive on March 20, the Service called for a meeting with all the concerned parties and changed its position, this time, siding with the headmistress of Achimota.
Ras Tetteh Wayo, a lawyer and member of the Rastafari Council, told Joy News: “It was the GES that called for the meeting for the two parties, [that is], the parents of the students and the Headmistress of Achimota School…and one of the GES’ deputy directors who chaired the meeting was clear that that was just to quell the media outburst and to bring a bit of calm environment in the country. But the GES will still stand with the Headmistress of Achimota School’s position……”
Ras Tetteh Wayo further stated that the GES “publication we all saw some few days [ago] was a façade, a fluke”.
“It was just to deceive the citizens of this country to believe that the GES is going to restore peace. So, Ghana should be aware of how the matter has now unfolded and at this meeting, GES supported the position of Achimota headmistress.”