General News of Saturday, 21 February 2015
The Vice President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Angel Kabonu has described government’s swift response to allegations of discrimination against Muslim students as “skewed.”
He argued that the statement suggests that there are only two religions in Ghana which is not the case. The Muslim Community in the Western Region demonstrated on Friday to express their displeasure of some especially mission schools that prevent Muslim students from freely exercising their faith.
A statement from government and signed by the Minister of Communications, Omane Boamah warned that heads of any institution, found to contravening the basic constitutional rights of Muslims will be sanctioned.
The statement follows news reports that Muslim women and girls are being prevented from wearing the hijab, a traditional scarf worn by Muslim women to cover their hair and neck and sometimes their face, to work and in schools.
The Minister noted further that if government’s position is that Muslim women must be allowed, and not forced to take off their hijabs unless they pose a danger to themselves and others.
But Speaking on Eyewitness News, Angel Kabonu stated that “the problem that I have with the statement is that the statement seems to be skewed to one religion, that is Islamic religion forgetting that in Ghana we don’t only have Christianity and Islam, we have other minor religions too.”
“What happens to the daughter or son of a Rastafarian who come to the school with dreadlocks because the dreadlock is a symbol of his religion?” he asked.
He said the statement also fell short of acknowledging African religious practices which comes with its own beliefs saying “I would have expected that if this is a policy of government then the policy should not be skewed towards one religion but the policy should be general in tolerating every religion and every believe without discrimination.”
On the issue of Muslims being forced to attend church services, Mr Kabonu argued that per a policy he is aware students are mandated to be part of general assemblies, a way of preventing criminal activities from taking place in schools.
“This assembly is because when you segregate students….on Sundays the Presbyterian are allowed to go to their church, the Catholics are allowed to go to their church… Some of these persons do not have a superintendent ministers to attend. If you allow those students to be in the dormitory there could be theft”
“…so we have a situation where we have this general assembly of students gathering at the place at one time,” he said.
Mr Kabonu further urged government to allow the Ghana Education Service to develop a general policy that could favour everyone.
“I think this issue should be tabled before the Ghana Education Service we think through it so that when we are implementing a rule it becomes a general rule not only to satisfy only Christians or Muslims, but one that will satisfy everyone.”