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Achimota School fails to respond to Rasta student’s suit; case adjourned to April 30

The Human Rights Court 1 Division of the High Court has adjourned to April 30, the case involving one of the Rastafarian boys, Oheneba Nkrabea, who was denied admission to Achimota School over his dreadlocks.

At a hearing on Thursday, April 22, 2021, it emerged that Achimota School had still not filed a response to the suit, despite being directed by the court to do so.

The Attorney General has, however, filed its response and another one on behalf of the Ghana Education Service (GES).

The Attorney General, however, argued that Achimota School and the Ministry of Education have wrongly been sued.

The court thus directed the school to file its response and written submissions, if any, by the 30th of April 2021.

The same directive applies to all other parties named in the suit.

Meanwhile lawyer for Oheneba Nkrabea, Wayoe Ghanamannti says the move by the AG is meant to delay the case.

“We are not very much surprised for the Attorney General to say that Achimota School has been wrongly sued. We disagree because we don’t see the reason why that assertion must be made. The Education Ministry is a sector and oversight Ministry”, he said.

Injunction thrown out

Last week, the court dismissed an application for a mandatory injunction aimed at forcing the Achimota School to admit Oheneba Nkrabea, pending the final determination of the substantive case on him being denied admission for having dreadlocks.

In the ex-parte motion sighted, Oheneba Nkrabea, through his father, argued that with academic work already in session, he stands to be disadvantaged if he continues to stay home waiting for the final decision of the court on the substantive case.

He prayed the court to force Achimota School to allow him to attend classes while the case lingers.

“This application is brought ex-parte because of the particular urgency of this case. Fresh students of Achimota School have reported to school and commenced academic work while [the] Applicant is still being denied enrolment despite the directive by 2nd Respondent [Ghana Education Service]. It has therefore become necessary for the Court to intervene in order that Applicant’s rights are protected and enforced. The longer Applicant stays at home, the longer he will continue to be denied an education. If this application is heard in the ordinary, Applicant will have to abide by all the rules relating to service of processes and remain at home while his colleagues are gaining an education,” excerpts of the motion said.

The court, presided over by Her Ladyship Gifty Adjei Addo during the hearing of the motion on Monday, April 12, 2021, said granting such an application would be prejudicial to the substantive matter.

In her reasoned opinion, expediting the trial will be in the interest of the student as the mandatory injunction would have allowed him to be in school for only 10 days.

She further granted an order for the first respondent, the Achimota School, to file its response 7 days after being served instead of the statutory 21 days.

This means that Oheneba Nkrabea will not be admitted temporarily by the Achimota school while the case lingers.

‘Substantive case’

Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea dragged Achimota School, the Board of Governors of Achimota School, the Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Education and the Attorney General to court, praying the Human Rights Division of the High Court to compel Achimota School to admit him for the purposes of his education.

He is also asking the court to stop the school from ever discriminating against him on the basis of his “religion and or creed”.

Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea prayed to the court to among other things make “a declaration that requiring Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea a child and adherent of the Rastafari religion and creed, to either cut his hair or forfeit admission into Achimota School, a public senior high school, is a violation of his rights to dignity…contrary to articles 15 and 28(3) of the Constitution, 1992 and section 13 of the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560)”.

Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea’s suit is the second after one filed by Tyron Marhguy, the other Rastafarian who was denied admission to the school.

Students denied admission

About three weeks ago, it was reported that Achimota School had denied two Rastafarians admission to the school, although they had been placed there by the Ghana Education Service’s Computerized School Selection and Placement Service (CSSPS).

The school insisted that its regulation states that all students or potential students maintain a low haircut as a requirement for admission.

It therefore said the two Rastafarians must cut their dreadlocks if they want to be granted admission. The two students insisted and were consequently denied admission.

The Ghana Education Service (GES) subsequently ordered Achimota School to admit the students, but it made a U-turn on its stance.

One of the Rastafarians who went to seek admission at his second choice of school, Saint John’s Grammar School was again refused admission there because of his dreadlocks.

Following calls for legal processes to the initiated against the school, Tyron Marhguy sued Achimota School.

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