The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah has called on Parliament to carry out sweeping reforms to laws that govern rules and regulations in schools to prevent apartheid from sneaking into the country.
According to him, the current “kaleidoscope of varying rules from private to public schools” need to be reformed to ensure that minimum standards and clear parameters consistent with provisions in Ghana’s laws on what constitutes acceptable rules in schools are met.
He stated that school rules should be well-structured to promote national cohesion, inclusion and diversity to prevent the creation of an apartheid-like regime in schools in the country.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah was addressing the house concerning the recent debate over whether three Rastafarian students should be allowed admission into Achimota School.
Achimota School authorities insist as part of the rules of the school, all student must have short hair.
They therefore told the parents of the Rastafarian students to either cut the dreadlocks of their wards or lose their spot in the school, but the students refused, citing religious beliefs.
This led to a national debate on whether or not the school should be made to admit the students despite their dreadlocks.
Ghana Education Service earlier directed the school to admit the students, but later retracted the directive and lent its support to the school.
The MP for North Tongu said, “Mr. Speaker, the current debate should afford us the opportunity to carry out sweeping reforms. When one observes the Ghanaian education landscape, there is clearly a kaleidoscope of varying rules from private to public schools.
“Like many, I am yet to come across any convincing research that pupils in more liberal private school environments grow up to be less useful to society when compared with their counterparts in so-called stricter public school environments.
“Mr. Speaker, in many other jurisdictions, far reaching reforms have taken place about school rules so as to build a fairer, just and equitable society. Let us not through school rules introduce an apartheid regime albeit via the backdoor”.
He further condemned utterances made by the NAGRAT President, Angel Carbonu that Rastafarians should build their own schools as other religious denominations have.
Reacting to the statement, Mr. Ablakwa said, “As a non-Presbyterian who was admitted to PRESEC, I am absolutely offended by such reckless statements. “
He mentioned that “we need to rethink our concept of discipline in our schools. Getting pupils and students to appreciate diversity and the beauty of different backgrounds, beliefs and creeds does not undermine discipline by any stretch of the imagination.
“Tolerance and accepting unique identities at that age cannot be inimical to any educational system. It is rather an awesome positive quality to imbibe in our children. In any case, don’t our children see the people we are refusing to admit all around them in real life and in their reading materials?” He asked.
He, therefore, called for the students to be admitted into the school in the interest of their supreme welfare as the Children’s Act, Act 560 demands.
He continued, “The real threat to discipline, edification and progress in our schools are not Rastafarians. The real threats are bigoted incendiary textbooks, outmoded curriculum, poor teacher motivation, lack of investments in quality and access, poor attempts at embracing blended learning, STEM and AI, and an erratic double track system.”
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah said he was not, however, opposed to all school rules and traditions, only those that are patently discriminatory and backward.
“Mr. Speaker, I believe the time has come for this House and the Ministry of Education to set minimum standards and clear parameters consistent with our laws on what constitutes acceptable rules in our schools. The current chaotic ecosystem cannot be allowed to prevail,” he concluded.