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MoE to convene meeting on religious practice in schools

The Ministry of Education has decided to convene a meeting with all stakeholders to dialogue for an amicable solution to the issue of unregulated religious practices in schools which has generated a national debate in recent times.

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a deputy Minister of Education who made this known said the meeting which would be convened very soon would involve especially religious heads.

He said on Accra based radio station, Citi FM that the Ministry of Education’s position on the matter as of now was to convene a meeting.

There are quite a number of schools under the Ghana Education Service (GES) that were started by religious organisations and even though, government has taken over, the religious organisations do have a say in the administration of the schools. There are also quite a number of schools that are also being run by religious organisations.

Recently, some Muslim students complained of discrimination on religious grounds and argued that they should not be made to attend religious activities such as church services in school.

This, culminated in a demonstration at Takoradi in the Western region by the Muslim community to express displeasure over what they called discrimination especially against female Muslim students in the wearing of hijab – a religious scarf worn by Muslim women to cover their hair and neck and sometimes a part of their face.

Government later warned that heads of institutions, including schools and work places, found to be contravening the basic constitutional rights of Muslims will be sanctioned.

The Christian Council in a response bemoaned how some Christians were also not allowed to freely practice their faith in Islamic schools but called for a need for consensus to resolve the matter devoid of partisan politics.

Last week, President Mahama in his state of the nation address made reference to the constitution that called for freedom of religion.

But in a statement on Tuesday, the Catholic Bishops Conference called on government and all other persons to refrain from issuing statements or making pronouncements which might not help in finding a peaceful solution to this issue.

The Bishops expressed concern about what it described as “the unwarranted threats of sanction coming from government circles” and stated that no citizen in Ghana should allow him/herself to be cowered by any intimidation or threat of sanction from any individuals.

They however appealed for dialogue to be used for an amicable resolution of the issue of unregulated religious practices in schools.

Speaking on Citi FM, the deputy Minister of Education said President Mahama’s reference to the issue in the state of the nation address was not to intimidate or threaten any head of institution.

He said the president was only making reference to the constitution on how every person should be allowed to practice their religion.

He said the Ministry was committed to dialogue on moving forward and “we do not think that there is any conflict now. We have had a system that has worked for us.”

 

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