After nearly nine months of schools being closed (an equivalent of one school year due to the Coronavirus pandemic), the students in Togo returned to school on the 2nd of November 2020. This included learners from primary, secondary, technical and religious institutions.
About 3 million students are going back to school for the 2020-21 academic year. Despite the promises made by the Togolese government to support the education sector during this pandemic, complaints are multidimensional, and expectations are great.
On the issue of the management of the number of students, it is now obvious that a record number of public establishments are overcrowded. Only private schools are able to accommodate a manageable number of learners per classroom. The enrolment management announced by the government, which sets the number of students per class at 30, remains an illusion.
Regarding health measures related to Coronavirus, the government announced the provision of a health protocol as well as a subsidy for masks. According to the executive, wearing a mask is compulsory and such equipment is an integral part of school supplies. But the reality is completely different. Most students in public schools don’t wear masks, and the few who do, wear them on an optional basis. And yet the government says it is subsidized at 80 per cent.
Moreover, the Togolese government’s promise to support teachers by increasing their numbers through a national competitive recruitment examination has been slow to materialize. Instead, threats are made to demand bonuses and better working conditions. Even if meetings are held to contain dissatisfaction, the government has very little room for manoeuvre if it does not satisfy education stakeholders very soon.
If last year ended in a tailspin with the holding of examinations under special conditions to avoid a blank year for the education sector, the one that has just started in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic plan is a source of proven concern regarding the abdication of the State and its approximate management of a health situation as worrying as it is serious in a country where not one hospital complies with the minimum standards.