Legal practitioner, Bobby Banson says the rejected Rastafarian students can seek legal redress for being denied enrolment into the Achimota School on the grounds of discrimination.
Speaking on Joy Prime’s Beyond the Headlines Wednesday, the lawyer indicated that although the Constitution of the country leaves the welfare of the students in the care of school management, the parents of the dreadlocked students can legally challenge that authority if it is found that the School has been selective in enforcing their rules.
He indicated, however, the parents of the Rastafarians must be able to prove that the power of discretion that has been given to the school’s authorities has been exercised arbitrarily.
When asked by the host of the show, Daniel Dadzie, if Caucasians are exempted from the low haircut rule, he answered, “If they [Rastafarian students] say that they have been discriminated, then they should be able to compare like situations, that the school has admitted students in like situations but has refused admission to their wards who also find themselves in a like situation”.
“Because in as much as the Constitution or any law gives anybody a discretion, it must be exercised within the ambit of Article 23 and Article 296 of the 1992 Constitution so that it is not arbitrary. The discretion must not be exercised in a discriminatory manner.
“So if the parents of the students decide to go to court, they must argue that the exercise, if indeed the schools have that power to deny students access, has been exercised in a discriminatory manner and they must demonstrate it”.
His remarks on the matter follow a series of events that started with the Headmistress of Achimota School denying 2 Rastafarian students’ enrolment to the school. Even though the students were posted to the School under the Computer School Placement System (CSSPS) the Headmistress insisted that the rules of the school do not allow students with dreadlocks to be admitted.
This subsequently generated a massive debate on social media with many claiming that the students have been denied their right to education.
Although the Ghana Education Service (GES) initially ordered for the students to be admitted, it later rescinded its order.
Mr Banson has, however, condemned how the matter has been handled, particularly, by the school. He also believes that the parents of the students must pursue the case so that the country will have a conclusive position on dreadlocks in second cycle schools.
“I am not happy about how both schools have gone about this. I believe that even if they have the authority to deny them admission, it could have been done in a much, much better way so that it doesn’t psychologically affect the students and be in the media space.
“Because these are children and whatever that you that will put them in the media or in public’s eye, will affect their mental health and to some extent, affect their education in the long term”.