Two students couldn’t attend the Achimota school because their dreadlocks were against the dress code. After a series of back-and-forth decisions, Ghana’s High Court of Justice ordered to admit the 2 Rastafaris.
In March 2021, two students of the senior high school Achimota, a prominent Ghanaian school, were refused to attend classes if they kept their dreadlocks. Long hair was in fact against the school dress code in the appearance guidelines.
The Ghana Education Service, a government agency depending on the Minister of education, first asked to admit the students as long as hair was “neatly tied“. Achimota refused to comply, and then, the agency backed the school decision to admit the students only if they had their hair cut.
Tyron Marghuy, one of the 2 students who were denied from Achimota, filed a lawsuit through his father at the Human Right Division of the Accra High Court to enforce their right to education. He had earlier said he didn’t want to cut his dreadlocks even if it cost his place at Achimota.
Dreadlocks are not a reason to refuse the right to get education
In fact, the 17-year-old boy who let his hair grow from the age of 13 considered the decision as a discrimination against the Rastafari religion.”I will go with my dad’s religion as long as I stay home“, he said in an interview in March.
For the school, dreadlocks appear as a infringement of the appearance guidelines while on the other side it is thought of as a human right violation of their religious freedom. The plaintiff asked the court to recognize that refusing to enrol the students on the basis of a Rastafarian religious inclination by the keeping of Rasta was a violation of fundamental human rights.
On May 31, the High Court eventually ruled that the reasons given by the school were not compelling given their rights to education and their rights to express their religious freedom.
Update: The school’s board decided to appeal the Court ruling.
Media sources and useful links:
- Two High School Students in Ghana Rejected Because of Dreadlocks, Newsendip, March 2021, Free access
- Accra High Court orders Achimota School to admit Rastafarian students, JoyOnline on YouTube, May 2021, Free access