Institutions of learning should ensure that while enforcing discipline, students are also taught to accept the socio-cultural and religious beliefs of each other, said Dr Benjamin Anyagre, the Executive Director, Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute (KNII).
“This could be done once these beliefs do not impede, in any way, the basic purpose of schooling, which is to acquire academic knowledge and also learn the kind of discipline that every individual needs to make it through life,” he said.
Dr Anyagre told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that if the society could express religious beliefs and socio-cultural values in different ways, then it was important to orient students to easily accept each other’s values.
Sharing his thoughts on the pending Achimota Senior High School and ‘rastafarian’ brouhaha, he said in as much as discipline and conformity to school rules were crucial, it was also important that those regulations did not appear to be discriminatory against any group by virtue of their religion or socio-cultural beliefs.
Dr Anyagre said with Ghana currently in absolute embrace of the homecoming agenda of Africans in the diaspora; dubbed: the ‘Year of Return’ and ‘Beyond the Return’, there was the need to create an accepting environment.
“We should remember that the homecoming agenda of Africans in the diaspora goes with the entry of different cultural values and practices, and this calls for a thorough psyching of our society to make it more accommodating and accepting,” he said.
Dr Anyagre said the country had already established the reputation of having a people with high tolerance of one another’s religious and socio-cultural beliefs, which had to be maintained as much as possible.
“Let’s be weary of actions that potentially incubate certain types of discrimination. Before you know what, you have a polarised society,”
He said the fact that Africans had fought over the years against discrimination, citing the former apartheid system in South Africa as an example, “We should be weary of becoming perfect representations of the very thing we proclaim to detest, which is people who easily discriminate against others who do not quite look like them.”
He said it was worth noting that just like the country’s Constitution, the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights was against any form of discrimination, and that had to be respected by every citizen.
Two dreadlocked students who were posted to Achimota Senior High School through the computerised placement system were asked by the School Authorities to have their hair cut before they could gain admission, in conformity with school rules and regulations.
This has generated a debate in favour or against the admission of dreadlocked pupils into senior high schools.
Rastafarians are typically identified by their long, braided hair also known as dreadlocks.