Mr Bright Kweku Appiah, Executive Director of Child Rights International (CRI), has asked the Ghana Education Service (GES), to develop a comprehensive national policy to standardize rules and regulations of Senior High Schools (SHSs) in the country.
He said the policy should also ensure proper integration of welfare principles in the drafting of rules and regulations by governing authorities of SHSs.
Mr Appiah made the call on Thursday at a press conference in Accra on issues concerning the admission of two children with dreadlocks into Achimota Senior High School.
He said the unavailability of clear rules and regulations by GES to govern SHSs had resulted in schools having rules and regulations that differed.
The Executive Director added that a great majority of rules and regulations of schools were skewed towards protecting the prestige and institutional integrity of the school as opposed to protecting and upholding the dignity of children in their care.
He said in the process of fashioning out rules and regulations of schools, a guide must be applied, based on the Welfare Principle of the Children’s Act 560 (1998).
Mr Appiah said the Welfare Principle must be the most important factor in all decision making regarding students and not the prestige of the school especially in the case of those considered ‘elite’ or the religious affiliations of parents.
He said the discourse between the schools and parents towards a resolution of the case had been without a proper recourse to the welfare of the subjects (the children).
Also, Mr Appiah said Right to Education was a substantive right of every child which should not be impeded and that, the issue had created a clash between Right to Education, Fundamental Freedoms, Rules and Regulation of the School.
“This is an opportunity for all stakeholders to look to the development of a collective agreement that truly reflects the Welfare Principle and the importance it places on upholding the best interest of children above all others in all instances involving them,” he said.
Mr Appiah said the State, as an integral stakeholder, must have a vested interest in the welfare of students across the country and its interest was crucial to the development of children.
“The school system in the current dispensation is built on the Welfare Principle and not on the Justice System model, as such, the intentions of schools must reflect their willingness to without exception, always act in the best interest of children.”
“Where there is a character deformation in a child, a collective agenda must be developed towards the sole aim of correcting and reforming that child. In the opposite instance, a child must be applauded and rewarded for exhibiting good character and not determine the discipline or social behaviour of the child based on their outward appearance,” he said.
Mr Appiah said some schools had become unconducive for children and parents must be mindful and intentional in the selection of schools for the education of their wards.
“Child Rights International hopes that the resolution of this case will lead to the enforcement of the fundamental right of all children involved in this case,” he added.