· Readers reflect on school management for the times
The Achimota Rasta issue has raised an accidental reminder that as society changes rules must follow, in principle. The difficulty arises, however, with managing the various needs of a boarding school population almost 3,000 in some cases. The following are concerns raised by readers:
If they are taking public funds then the court is correct. Ironically this is one of the times when the court is actually more progressive than segments of the populace. The same Ghanaian dinosaurs, if they emigrated to America, would protest when racists running certain American schools force their children along with Black American children to curtail their hairstyles. If we say we are governed by the rule of law, then these anachronistic conservatives must acknowledge this and crawl back into their feudalism.
I believe in discipline and I further believe that our Ghanaian schools are a great place for young minds to be shaped, as well as for young people to learn and imbibe invaluable skills – tolerance, recognition of privilege, time management, multitasking, focus and anything that adds to the culture of discipline. However, this case is about religion.
The young men sport dreadlocks, as a manifestation of their religion, their beliefs; not as a fashion statement. How difficult is it to understand that? For me, our inability to comprehend this tells me that we are bigots, at heart. Ghana is a secular state. However, the Christian majority get away with so many things; regardless of whether or not those things are directly linked to Christianity. Once Ghana’s religious minority comes into the picture, we suddenly remember all of our laws and values. It’s pathetic. The biggest heartbreak here, though, is the fact that we are dealing with children. Is this how we deal and toy with their future? Based on our own dogma and fears?
Should there be pure mission/faith-based schools vs public schools in the country? Governments have tried it only to settle for compromises. Here comes a new era: what kind of compromise today?
I personally long for the old-time way of mission school where I was nurtured. But I also will strive for every child of fetish or truant stock to gain equal access. How to achieve it is what I can’t readily answer. Meanwhile, I will advocate for e-learning where home and personalised education thrive.
I must say that I do agree with the principle that appearances should not be an issue with regards to learning as long as learning is not affected by appearance. Children’s s creativity and tribal belongings in my opinion should be respected. In North London I was summoned to the head teacher’s office because she was concerned that one of my sons was being radicalised.
He was aged 15 and growing an afro! He loves his hair and the style! Not a Black Panther … this was a few years ago now. I wonder if Black Lives Matter has had a widening impact on that headteacher’s mind? Oh, and his learning was not impacted by his appearance at all. He graduated from Cambridge University. I am not one to boast but it is an opportune moment to let the light shine.
I respect the fact that in educational institutions there are some generally established rules/ protocols for hair and attire, etc. However, many of these regulations were/are made by white people and colonisers with different hair/bodies/traditions to us. So I believe those with Rasta locks should be allowed to wear them, neatly of course. It is even now permitted for Blacks to wear dreadlocks in the British schools and also in the police force (etc) with no ill effects.
The Orthodox Jews and Moslems amongst others have mostly been allowed to wear their hair/head gear in accordance with their religious conventions. The world must now accept aspects of Black culture that have been suppressed/dis-allowed, often for oppressive reasons. After all, we are NOT the same as the whites, and they need to respect this fact.
Women have fought hard and long in order to wear the hair and attire they want, and this is a similar situation with Rasta culture. Conventions must be duly updated with the changing times.
I agree with the court that they should be allowed to attend. If they want to be elitist and run the school according to their beliefs/desires, then they should opt out of the public school system and go private! I know that there are rules and regulations, but to my mind a lot of them are archaic. We need to rejig our education system and curricula to fit in with the 21st century we live in. We need more tolerance and empathy and most importantly inclusivity.
These prejudices picked up from Caucasian culture needs to stop. In the US, as you know, black hairstyles became an issue. Yes, some took it too far, but at the end, the principle held, that tasteful expression of cultural expressions should not be shunned. Rasta hair style, like all our hairstyles can be done tastefully, and that’s what students need to be taught.
Cultural and religious discrimination against Moslems, the fasting issue, and traditional stereotypes against Rasta are against our constitution. How can we deny an academically qualified student from moving forward, just because he wears a Rasta hairstyle?
If care is not taken, these opposing invincible forces will take over our system as they did to other countries. A case in point: At Mmofraturo, we all had low cut hair such that a pencil could freely run thru. The school supplied our uniforms and we paid for it. We all wore Clark’s sandals also known as Achimota sandals. This is the system set up for most of our educational institutions. Where are these people coming from with this Rasta hairdo? The hair should go!
I do not subscribe to a disruption of uniformity in the upbringing and training process of any child. The victory of a child over an institution is a huge recipe for chaos and an ultimate breakdown of law and order. I expect the judge to remove her WIG and GOWN before making such a ruling.