A former Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Charles Aheto-Tsegah is worried by the Methodist church’s rejection of the GES’ directive to Wesley Girls’ High School, to allow Muslim students to fast.
Referring to the case of Achimota High School rejecting GES’ initial directive to admit two dreadlocked students, Mr. Aheto-Tsega said this trend undermines the authority of the Service.
“This is a very serious matter, it undermines the authority of the Ghana Education Service, and we cannot run education effectively in this country if we still have people who have interests they seek to uphold at all cost.”
“Interestingly we have entered an education management process that is either going to make or mar the education system.”
In an interview on Eyewitness News, he attributed the impasse between the school and the Muslim community to the Methodist church.
“Every system with individuals whose parochial interests override the good of the system or country is a threat to the general wellbeing of the people. And this is the situation we are seeing in the cases of Achimota and Wesley Girls.”
“In both cases, the issues were not complicated by the schools but some people who have interests in the schools. In the case of the Achimota School, it was the old students, and with the Wesley Girls, it is the Methodist church, unfortunately. ”
The former GES head recommended a stakeholder engagement to bring finality to the matter.
“The Methodist church, in its letter, referred to its partnership between GES. But then, the partnership agreement says unequivocally that the interest of the state will be upheld, and the church will not determine the direction of the school, though the state will give recognition to the church. So I find it difficult to understand what’s going on.”
“This whole partnership originated from a very long time ago, and now the current composition of our social arrangements have made it more important for us to find a way to build and bond our society through the education system. If I were still the Director-General, this would have been an indictment and I would have immediately gone back to the Methodist Church for a discussion with its leadership.”
The Methodist Church Ghana, in a statement, kicked against GES’ directive to Wesley Girls’ High School to allow Muslim students to partake in the Ramadan fast.
The church said it took a “strong exception” to the directive stressing that it “cannot accede to the unilateral directive issued by the Ghana Education Service.”
It insisted that the Ghana Education Service “respects the long-standing partnership between Government and Mission Schools.”
It also argued that the school rule in question “is a long-standing one which is also non-religious and various renowned Muslim ladies in Ghana have passed through the school adhering to such a rule.”
Wesley Girls’ High School faced criticism after it prevented a Muslim student from fasting during the ongoing Ramadan.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum had met with the Board of Wesley Girls’ High School and advised the GES to put measures in place to address the concerns of Muslim students.
As part of its directive, the GES urged parents of such students “to write to the school indicating that the school shall not be held liable for any health condition of the student as a result of the fast”.