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Education in Togo - An Overview

The Togolese Republic publicly called Togo is a West African country. The countries that border Togo are Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. In the south of Togo lies Gulf of Guinea coast on which the Capital Lome is situated. From 12th to 18th century the Ewe, Adja, and related peoples, who now constitute a majority of the population of southern Togo and nearby Ghana, came to this area from the Niger River Valley as a result of growing pressure from the east.

Placed over linguistic, ethnic and social assortment, Togo has influences from French language and culture. Despite having a recognized trust territory status, after attaining independence on April 27, 1960, Togo was a French protectorate and remains stayed under French influence for all practical purposes including the Franc zone and a commonwealth-like association of Francophone countries. Needless to say that Togo has acquired a French educational system in program structure, curriculum, and language of instruction at all levels.

In Togo, French language is used for all official purposes and business communications. Togolese languages including Ewe and Kabiye made their presence everywhere casually. Togolese languages are used at informal level in educational settings. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the government in power instituted the use of two African languages; i.e. Ewe and Kabiye. In 1977 the government established a pedagogical research institute, Direction de la Formation Permanente de l'Action et de la Recherche Pedagogique (DIFOP) to make Ewe and Kabiye textbooks and supervise the training and preparation of teachers for these two languages. DIFOP was located on the campus of the University of Benin (Universite du Benin) in Lome.

The ultimate purpose was to replace French, with the two designated Togolese languages. The intention of choosing two languages was to "nationalize" the curriculum so as to be more Togo receptive and to produce educated citizens in harmony with Togolese culture and the needs of Togo. In a speech in 1979 at a conference organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Dakar, Mr. Konde Gnon-Samwa, Director of DIFOP at the time, declared that more than 2,000 primary school teachers were trained to teach the two languages in question and that more than 7,000 pieces of instructional material were supplied to different schools. However, the financial component of such a linguistic renovation is staggering. The results as of 2001 are inconclusive, and the effort is inevitably slow. As a result French continues to control the formal facets of Togolese life and educational system.

There is an apprehension with some Togolese that the efficacy of French, currently the only medium of education and the communication medium of society's infrastructure and commercial life, will be abridged ahead of time.  There is apparent turn down in the instructional standards of the French language. Formal and universal instruction of Ewe and the use of Ewe, and of Kabiye for that matter, in formal and official contexts is not yet practicable. Also the capability for making obligatory universal education at the primary level is lacking. The rate of failure from one grade to the next is exceptionally high.

The number of students enrolled shows high in official records because of the huge number of repeaters. This is especially true at the university level. The United States Information System has significant presence in Capital Lome. It offers night classes to large number of Togolese adults. English makes huge presence in the educational system at the university level. The University of Benin has a very strong English department. The educational system in Togo is highly restricted. It is broadest at the primary level but reduced at the secondary level and even more reduced at the higher educational level.

On November 17, 1960 Togo joined UNESCO. The UNESCO office based in Accra, Ghana covers the country. Togo holds a UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policies for Development, established in 1999 at the Regional Centre of Cultural Action (CRAC). As of September 2006, 100 schools in Togo were part of the Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). The UNESCO Institute for Statistics has conducted detailed study on education and literacy scenario in Togo. For more details, please click here.
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