Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Two leading Islamic clerics have declared their intention to go to court if the government goes ahead to return mission schools to churches.
According to Dr. Abdullatif Lacina Diaby and Abdulahi Ibrahim, handing over the schools to the churches “will threaten the promotion of unity in religious diversity and ultimately inhibit national peace and cohesion in our ever increasing multicultural society.”
They have already petitioned the Minister of Education, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, with copies to the presidency, office of National Chief Imam, National Peace Council, Speaker of Parliament among others, asking that the move be stopped.
They have cautioned through their solicitors, AB Lexmall & Associates, that they “reserve the right to avail themselves of all means afforded by law, to oppose the implementation of this policy, including but not limited to resort to the courts of law,” if the government did not listen to them.
The petition filed on June 20 said what the government is seeking to do is a campaign manifesto promise by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) when the party was in opposition. The two insists, “We have reason to believe that this campaign promise was premised on the calls by the Christian Council of Ghana, Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Methodist Church of Ghana and the Catholic Church, that Government should return the ‘mission schools’ in the country to the churches.”
Dr. Diaby and Ibrahim claimed that the argument had been unanimously advanced in support of returning the schools to the churches. “Without any empirical evidence, they assert that the absence of the church in the running of these schools has been the cause of the decline in moral values in Ghana, especially among the youth.”
On Speaker’s Opinion
They said Speaker of Parliament Prof. Mike Ocquaye is also reported to have expressed support for the move to hand over the ‘mission schools’ to the churches by stating that “it brings competition.”
However, the petitioners are insisting that the ‘mission schools’ though built in colonial days, “have received substantial investment from government over several decades, resulting in their marked transformation to date.”
Dr. Abdullatif Diaby and Abdulahi Ibrahim said the churches currently do not have the funds to support and run the schools and that a recent call on the government by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for continuous funding of the schools even after a take-over, lends credence to the fact that the mission schools should not be allowed to do it all alone.
The petitioners said they were convinced that the alleged falling moral standards in the country “have absolutely no attribution to the fact that the government manages and runs ‘mission schools.’
“It is the core duty of every educational institution to shape students morally and instill civic values in its students,” the clerics stressed, adding that “the supposed ‘moral decadence’ should be viewed accurately as a result of a failed system and be addressed based on an in-depth analysis.”
They have suggested broader consultations with all stakeholders as well as a non-discriminatory approach for adoption to address the issue of moral decadence effectively.
“In a multicultural, religiously diverse and democratic setting like ours, it is dangerous to view morality through the lens of one religious group to the exclusion of all others. This is because what may pass the moral test in one religion might be viewed as immoral by another religion.”
Dr. Abdullatif Diaby and Abdulahi Ibrahim said they were taking “the humble view that handing over some schools in the country to the churches will not be the panacea to the alleged moral decline but will rather eventually lead to a ‘Cobra effect.’”
According to them, they have a dossier of what they called ‘many of such instances of religious oppression that have occurred in this country,’ and said the issues were “unfortunately not being addressed as at the date of this petition.”
They cited the death of a Muslim student in Adisadel College who allegedly jumped to his death in an attempt to escape morning devotion, adding, “In March 2015, after then President Mahama had cautioned against compelling Muslim students to attend Christian religious services in public schools, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference counteracted by saying that Muslims who find themselves in ‘Catholic’ schools should leave if they are unable to attend Christian religious services.”
The petitioners also cited another example which they said was a row between Muslim students and school authorities of St Vincent College resulting from the former being compelled to attend morning devotion.