Court allows expelled Rastafarian girl back to school, says it is a recognised religion

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High court has ruled that Rastafari is a recognized religion and therefore no student should be expelled for keeping dreadlocks.

Justice Chacha Mwita ruled that it is a recognized religion with genuinely held beliefs like keeping the 10 commandments and the observing the Sabbath.

This is after the father of a teenage girl who was expelled from a high school in Kibra constituency for keeping dreadlocks sued the school.

Justice Mwita allowed the 15 year old girl to continue with her education after finding that the school violated her right to education and religion.

The judge said, “the girl kept dreadlocks not out of choice but as a manifestation of her religious beliefs.”

The school was further prohibited from interfering with the girl’s education on religious grounds.

“There must be reasonable accommodation for religious beliefs and the stand taken by the school that she must shave her hair is contrary to her religious beliefs under Article 32,” the judge ruled.

The judge said school rules are not meant to visit punishment on students to the extent that they discriminate the rastafarian child and are therefore unconstitutional.

According to the judge, school rules must respect religious beliefs and as a result, the girl should be allowed to continue with her education.

The court found that school failed to show there was no alternative other than to expel the girl.

Through lawyers Shadrack Wambui and Dudley Ochiel, the girl argued that her right to education can not be compromises by her right to the manifestation to her religious beliefs.

The lawyers further submitted that the student had disclosed that her religion is rastafarian during her admission and the school admitted her and allowed to attend two classes.

According to lawyer Ochiel, the decision by the court is a win for freedom of religion and a celebration of diversity.