A human rights court in Ghana’s capital city of Accra has ordered one of the country’s most prestigious senior high schools to admit two Rastafarian students it refused to take in because of their dreadlocks.
In March, HowAfrica reported the Achimota School had turned away two sets of parents with two different students who had dreadlocks. Despite arguments of freedom of religion made by the parents Tyrone Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea, the school’s authorities maintained that they could not allow the boys to start school. The school had initially given an ultimatum to the students’ parents to either cut their wards’ dreadlocks or look for another school that would enroll them. They, however, refused and later announced they were going to fight their case in court.
In the ruling on Monday, May 31, 2021, Justice Gifty Agyei Addo maintained the country’s Attorney-General had been unable to present a legal justification with regards to the boys’ right to education being suppressed as a result of their dreadlocks, local news outlet Citi News reported.
The Attorney-General, who was representing the Achimota School, reportedly argued that allowing the students to enroll in the government-funded school with dreadlocks will have ramifications on its rules and regulations as well as tradition. The Attorney-General also argued the students had not even completed the necessary formalities in order to be enrolled in the school, so there shouldn’t be a claim of rejection. Justice Addo, however, dismissed the Attorney-General’s arguments and passed judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.
“The first time I walked through the gate of Achimota, the first thing I did was to check the time [I arrived] because I knew one day I would be telling a story with it,” Marhguy told Citi News. “I had no idea I would be telling one great story in the courtroom about how I was discriminated [against] and how I am back.”
When asked about being possibly stigmatized on campus upon his return to Achimota School, Marhguy said, “I will know how to handle it, and to straighten things up when [the stigmatization] starts.”
Marhguy and Nkrabea gained admission to Achimota School after successfully passing the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Students who pass the exams and are eligible for admission are placed in senior high schools through the country’s Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS). Marhguy reportedly passed the exams with very good grades and his results were even added to the lawsuit to show he’s an academically gifted student.