Education Minister Prof Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang has given a clearest indication that she would not tolerate any acts of religious coercion in the educational institutions.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Monday, the minister said the school is a place to build tolerance as well as respect for diversity and any attempt to subvert such values will be dealt with severely.
Her comments follow reports that some students in the second cycle institutions, especially Moslems are forced by heads of institutions, mostly Christian institutions, to attend church services, against their will and their religion.
Only recently, Moslem ladies were also asked to remove their hijabs before they would be allowed to take passport pictures for their examinations.
The Muslim community perceive these orders as an affront to their religion.
Last week angry Moslems in the Western Region embarked on a massive demonstration to kick against these acts of coercion.
Government through the Communication Minister Dr Edward Omane Boamah released a statement condemning the acts of religious intolerance in schools and warned of punitive measures against heads of institutions who would violate the country’s constitution which upholds freedom of religion.
Adding her voice to the impasse the sector Minister conceded issues about religion are sensitive matters which must be handled with care.
She said school heads must look at the broader picture of building a society of school children who respect the opinions of others.
“I want to plead with all of us. Whatever it is the religion is doing, it should show in a way we relate with each other; the way teachers relate pupils.
“Coercion of any kind should not be tolerated. The school is a place where tolerance and respect for diversity and difference of opinion should be encouraged,” she indicated.
On the controversial issue involving four schools whose pupils were said to have taken part in the “Won gbo” demonstration by the NPP, Prof Opoku Agyemang said due process must be allowed to take place.
She said a committee constituted by the Ministry has begun investigations and in due time the report of the committee will be out sooner than later.
She said “reason must be allowed to prevail at all times.”
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