Ghana’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Dama, on Wednesday advised the Achimota School to withdraw a stay of execution application it had filed as part of an appeal process against a High Court ruling that ordered the school to enroll two Rastafarian students it denied enrollment because of the length of their hair.
Mr. Dame argued that the right of the two students, Tyrone Iras Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea, to education was paramount and Achimota School should allow them start classes as the High Court had ordered, even if the school disagreed with the ruling and wanted to appeal.
He said the school could still appeal the ruling without necessarily applying for a stay of execution to prevent the students from commencing classes especially when there would be no injustice done to the school if the appeal goes on without the stay.
Godfred Dame explained further that by law, Achimota School, being a public pre tertiary educational institution, is under the regulation of the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ministry of Education for that matter, therefore can be given legal advice by the office of the Attorney General.
“GES is under the Ministry of Education, it is subject to the advice of the Attorney General, all the time we give them advice on various issues, and we represent them in court”, Godfred Dame told Joy News.
By sunset of yesterday, the Governing Board of Achimota School had issued a statement which said the school had withdrawn its application for a stay of execution.
The statement said: “Further to our statement issued on 1 June 2021 on the subject of two Rastafarian applicants, we have been in consultation with other relevant stakeholders to seek the best ways forward, taking into account the interests of all parties”.
It continued that “while the Board remains committed to the appeal against the high court ruling, it will withdraw the application for a stay of execution pending the determination of the appeal by a higher court. We have, accordingly, advised our legal counsel in this respect.”
EDUCATION MINISTER SHOCKED
Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, the Minister responsible for Education expressed surprise when the Governing Board of the Achimota School unilaterally, without consulting its regulating authorities of relevant stakeholders appealed the ruling that asked it should enroll Tyrone Iras Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea as students even if they were in dreadlocks.
Dr. Adutwum argued that the school ought to have first consulted the regulating authorities before that decision.
Speaking on Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana Tuesday night, Dr Adutwum noted: “regarding Achimota, I am the Minister for Education and there is a Director General of Ghana Education Service. Boards of High Schools are constituted by the Minister and instructions for the running of the schools are provided by the Director General of the Ghana Education Service. So tomorrow, I am meeting with the headmistress of Achimota, together with the Board Chairmen.
“I was very surprised. They cannot take that unilateral position [that they want to go back to court]. I am waiting for the full briefing of the Attorney General who I commend for going to court and taking a serious interest in this case”, the Minister for Education added.
He continued: “the Attorney General is the one that should say Minister for Education, let’s sit down, where do we go from here? So nobody can preempt us. We are waiting for the certified copy of the judgment and at that point everything that needs to be done would be done, so Achimota Board, chill. I am the Minister for Education appointed by the President of this Republic, approved by Parliament and sworn in by the President.”
Dr. Adutwum said the Achimota School should “understand that they act at the behest of the Ghana Education Service and there are rules and guidance and that the Board is constituted by the Minister for Education. Just as the Presient approves Boards of universities, there are some representation guidelines as to who appoints who. Being sworn into office and all those things comes from the Minister for Education.”