Religious Tolerance: Peace Council holds validation workshop on MoU to guide Mission Schools

The National Peace Council (NPC) has organized a validation workshop on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to guide Mission Schools on religious tolerance.

The MoU aims to provide guidelines for Government Assisted Mission Schools/Private Schools to enable a safe learning environment, promotion of national peace and preventing discrimination on religious grounds to enhance greater social cohesion.

Participants at the workshop included representatives of the Conference of Managers of Education Units (COMEU), the Trustees of the Conference of Managers of Mission Education Units, the Ghana Education Service (GES), Directors of Mission Education Units, Heads of Schools and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

Mrs Joana Adzoa Opare, Member, NPC Governing Board and Chairperson of Complaints and Conflict Committee, in a statement read on her behalf by Mrs Magdalene Kannae, a member of the Governing Board of the NPC, said one thing that the Council had taken from the long period of
engagement with stakeholders on religious tolerance in schools was that, no pupil or student should be hindered by religion in their quest for academic laurels.

This, Mrs Opare said had been the primary principle upon which the process had thrived.

‘Collectively, we shall be making history and bring finality to a document that we have diligently put together, which will serve as a guide for your various Education Units and Schools and support management of students from diverse backgrounds to achieve their desires in the field of Education,’ she said.

She reiterated that the timing in any project or policy was critical to the means and the end.

‘This validation coming just few days after the Ramadan and Easter and few days to the traditional ban on drumming in Accra should give us a sense of diversity that rather unite us than divides us,’ she said.

‘Let us collectively uphold the principle and practice of togetherness, responsiveness to each other’s views, respect for the rights of others, and toleratio
n and tolerance of religious diversity in all institutions of learning.’

She said the Council had the conviction that the MoU would serve Ghanaians positively and bring sanity to every education Institutions that the document was developed for.

‘May we all be doers and not just listeners in the face of religious tolerance in our schools.’

Constitutionally, Ghana is a circular state, and all citizens have the freedom to practice and profess any religion of their choices, with their religious liberty protected.

Article 25 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana indicates that, all persons had the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with the view to achieving full realisation of that right.

According to the draft MoU the Mission Schools must emphasize a culture of tolerance, inclusivity and cooperation while maintaining the missions and visions of their parent religious bodies.

Regarding fasting in schools, it indicated that students should be allowed to fast; however, parents/guardians f
rom school authorities must seek permission and requisite counseling given to students before fasting begins.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency at the end of the validation workshop, Mrs Opare said following reports of a Muslim student at the Wesley Girls’ High School, Cape Coast, who was allegedly prevented from fasting during Ramadan in 2021, which was being observed by Muslims, the Peace Council in an efforts to help address the issue met with all the stakeholders involved to see what actually happened and how they could intervene to ensure that there was peace in the country’s educational institutions.

She said the Council met with all the stakeholders involved, which included the Ministry of Education, the Muslims Caucus in Parliament, the Wesley Girls Management, the Christian Council of Ghana, Methodist Church, Ghana, the girls, and parents to ascertain what happened.

‘In the process, we find out that there has been a drafted MoU that has never been assented to, when it comes to the legal issues. So
, we revisited this, and we called the stakeholders around the table and agreed that we needed to finalize this.’

Mrs Opare noted that the MoU would serve as a document that people could speak to when it comes to the issue of religious tolerance in the nation’s schools.

Source: Ghana News Agency