Educational Challenges in Togo

Written by Mamta Rao

Children in class in Lome’ Togo photo by michndb via Flickr.

Togo, officially known as the Togolese Republic, is a small tropical nation on Africa’s west coast. It is bordered by Ghana, Benin, and Burkina Faso and is home to approximately 8.5 million people. Despite its scenic coastal location along the Gulf of Guinea, Togo remains one of the least developed countries in the region, with significant disparities between rural and urban areas.¹

This article aims to delve into several significant challenges confronting the education system in Togo.
Education is an essential part of Togo’s national development roadmap for 2020–2025. While crises in Togo have hindered progress in education, the government has committed to developing effective education strategies. The development of Togo’s education system includes addressing numerous challenges.²


Upon the culmination of primary school, over 50% of children in low- and middle-income nations struggle to read and comprehend a basic story. This learning crisis threatens countries’ efforts to build human capital and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), undermining sustainable public disclosure. The poverty level is twice as high in rural areas (58.8%) as in urban areas (26.5%) in Togo. This disparity largely stems from concentrated economic growth in modern sectors and limited access to quality services. Notably, poverty is more prevalent in female-headed households, with a rate of 45.7% compared to 45.2% in male-headed households. Women face greater vulnerability due to limited access to economic opportunities, education, healthcare, and other essential socio-economic amenities.

Togo’s Human Capital Index (HCI) score, standing at 0.43, reflects the concerning reality that children born in Togo today will only achieve 43% of their potential productivity as adults due to limited access to essential services such as healthcare, education, and proper nutrition. The experiences children have in early childhood significantly impact their lifelong development. Providing nurturing care during this crucial period is essential. Pre-primary education is recognised as a vital intervention in early childhood.³

Primary Education Expenditure

Primary education expenditure per child of primary education age in Togo is USD 297 (PPP), 47.2% below the average for the Sub-Saharan Africa region and 65.3% above the average for low-income countries. Togo’s education sector suffers from chronic underfunding, leading to insufficient resources for schools, low teacher salaries, and inadequate infrastructure. This affects the overall quality of education and limits the government’s ability to address other educational challenges effectively.

In Togo, some private elementary schools (e.g., École Française and the American School of Lomé) have computer laboratories, but the school fees are not within the reach of the average Togolese family. Some private secondary schools, particularly those following the French education system and participating in external French examinations, provide computer laboratories for their students’ use., but only about 5% of Togolese youth know how to use computers.

Learning Poverty

Togo, as well as many other African countries, is facing a learning crisis. Learning poverty is one of the factors contributing to low educational attainment. As per the World Bank and UNESCO estimations, 82% of children are not able to read and understand an age-appropriate text by age 10. Boys are less likely to achieve minimum proficiency at the end of primary school (81.5%) than girls (79.8%) in Togo. Notably, learning poverty rates are higher among boys than girls in Togo. In Togo, data from large-scale student learning assessments reveals that 81 per cent of children fail to reach the Minimum Proficiency Levels (MPL) by the end of primary school, as indicated by statistics from grade 6 in 2019. 5 per cent of primary school-aged children are not enrolled in school.

According to the 2016 PASEC assessment at the beginning of schooling, the Togolese education system is among the least effective, with at least 50% of students who do not sufficiently master the knowledge and skills to pursue schooling in good conditions.

Adolescent Girls Out of School

In Togo, 28 per cent (2017) of adolescent girls are out of school. Violence against children is still frequent and rarely denounced because it is considered legitimate by adults. The practice of child marriage affects 11.2% of girls aged 15–19. Girls’ dropouts persist because of pregnancies and the risk of violence.

School dropout rates

The share of out-of-school children is lower for boys (2.8%) than for girls (7.8%). According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the primary school completion rate was 87 per cent in 2022 for girls and 91 per cent for boys. However, the completion rates for lower secondary education indicate a significant decline, with only 59.9 per cent of girls and 66.8 per cent of boys completing their education. Gross enrolment rates for secondary education were 58 per cent for females and 70 per cent for males. Gross enrolment in tertiary education was 11 per cent for women in 2020 versus 19 per cent for men. This shows a significant drop-off in enrolment and completion as students progress to the next levels. ¹⁰

AFRICAN CHILDREN, TOGO photo by Patty vermillion$baby via Flickr.

Language barrier

The language of instruction throughout the school system is French, the official language of Togo. However, local languages are used in public and denominational kindergartens, but they remain confined to this level of education. ¹¹ There exists a concern within certain segments of the Togolese population regarding the potential premature erosion of the effectiveness of French. As it stands, French is the exclusive medium of education and serves as the primary language for communication across various sectors of society, including infrastructure and commercial endeavors. There is an observable deterioration in the teaching standards of the French language.¹²

Economic and social development issues

Togo faces significant challenges in achieving universal primary education. There are pronounced social disparities, particularly in academic programs, with girls and disadvantaged groups bearing the brunt of these inequalities. Regional disparities also persist, limiting schooling opportunities across different areas. Primary and secondary education suffer from high repetition rates, highlighting inefficiencies in the education system. Additionally, there is a notable gap between the skills acquired through education and the job market demands.

Togo’s education sector’s learning and working conditions are substandard, characterised by insufficient resources for purchasing equipment. Access to various levels and types of learning remains limited, exacerbating the educational divide. Furthermore, the distribution of teachers is uneven, with many being underqualified and exploited. The scarcity of books and teaching materials further hampers the learning process for both educators and students.

The utilisation of information and statistical systems is minimal, hindering effective planning and decision-making in education. Administrative management is also lacking, contributing to inefficiencies and bureaucratic hurdles. Moreover, there is inadequate oversight of the demands from the socio-professional sectors, leading to mismatches between educational outputs and the needs of the workforce. Addressing these multifaceted challenges is crucial for improving the quality and accessibility of education in Togo.¹³

Disputes between the government and teachers

Togo has experienced significant tensions and disputes between the government and teachers in recent years. These disputes often revolve around inadequate pay, poor working conditions, a lack of resources, and demands for educational reforms.

The SDI study (2016) has shown that most teachers do not master teaching content. On average, only 45% of the teachers scored well on a test designed to measure student achievements.¹⁴ ¹⁵

Highlight success stories and initiatives

Togo is ranked 162nd in 2021-2022 in terms of human development. The index of the gender development rate is 0.849, and the gender inequality index is 0.580. The government continues to expand access to social services and strengthen the institutional framework for gender.¹⁶

The country is making enormous efforts to recruit 3,300 teachers, but the State is still facing a demand to improve student performance. Despite these challenges, the transition rate from primary to secondary education increased to 84.5 per cent.¹⁷

For the past four years, a mobile library has been travelling through remote areas in Togo. It is suitable for those parents who cannot afford the books. This effort made Togo’s history known to generations in the French language through storytelling, with the belief that modern education must be combined with traditional ways that were lost due to colonisation.¹⁸

Owing to funding from Japan, the World Bank, and UNICEF, the refrigeration of vaccines during the pandemic has been reinforced or renewed in almost 95% of the country’s health facilities. The percentage of children with access to primary health care at the community level in the Savannah and Kara regions increased from 80.4% in 2021 to 82.2% in 2022.¹⁹

The UNICEF office in Togo has received vital support from financial partners, covering 32% of the COVID-19 Response Plan. These funds, provided by the Government of Japan, USAID, the Global Partnership for Education, and VLISCO, have played a crucial role in implementing measures to combat the spread of the virus and mitigate its socio-economic impact in Togo.

Togo’s formal education system operates on a 2-6-6 structure, and efforts have been made to enhance its quality and effectiveness. UNICEF and UNESCO conducted a comprehensive analysis of the Togolese education sector, proposing strategies to improve learning outcomes. As a result, Togo has adopted a national teacher policy aimed at enhancing teacher training, professionalism, and effectiveness, thereby improving educational standards across the country.

UNFPA has initiated a national program targeting teenage pregnancies and marriages, both within school and out-of-school settings. Aligned with Togo’s National Equity, Equality, and Gender Policy, this program aims to tackle gender disparities in education and promote gender equality. By addressing issues such as early marriages and pregnancies, the program contributes to fostering a more inclusive and equitable education system in Togo.

The country took steps in early 2022 to make birth registration free, the rate of which is nearly 83%. Several investments have improved children’s access to justice without reducing the extent of children’s deprivation or improving their care.²⁰


Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive reforms, including investments in infrastructure, teacher training, curriculum development, and policies aimed at promoting gender equality and inclusivity in education and enhancing social protection initiatives. Additionally, fostering partnerships with international organisations and donors can help mobilise resources to support education initiatives in Togo.


¹ World Bank. (2018). Overview. World Bank.

² Global Partnership for Education. (n.d.). Togo. Retrieved from

³ Update on the context and situation of children. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2024, from

⁴ World Bank. (n.d.). Togo – Education Sector Support Project: Project Information Document. Retrieved from

⁵ Togo Country Fact Sheet. Retrieved from

⁶ Togo Learning Poverty Brief. (2022).

⁷ UNICEF. (2018). Togo – Thematic Programme 4 (TP4) – 2018. UNICEF.

⁸ Update on the context and situation of children. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2024, from

⁹ UNESCO. (2024). Togo: Education Country Brief. Retrieved from:

¹⁰ UNESCO. “UFC TOGO – Rapport de l’Unesco sur l’éducation au Togo.” Retrieved from

¹¹ UNESCO. “UFC TOGO – Rapport de l’Unesco sur l’éducation au Togo.” Retrieved from

¹² (n.d.). Togo – Educational System—overview. Retrieved from

¹³ Togo: Sectorial Plan for Education 2010-2020: Meeting the Challenge of Economic, Social and Cultural Development, issued in 2010. (2020).

¹⁴ Al Jazeera. (2022, April 7). Togo dismisses more teachers in fresh row with teachers union. Retrieved from

¹⁵ World Bank. (n.d.). Schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Opportunities. World Bank.

¹⁶ Togo First. “Togo improves ranking in UNDP’s Human Development Index.”,

¹⁷ UNESCO. (n.d.). Title of the Document. Retrieved from

¹⁸ Togo education: A better focus on indigenous authors • FRANCE 24 English. (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2024, from

¹⁹ UNICEF. “COVID-19 Situation Report No. 21 for Togo: January 2022.” Accessed February 20, 2024.

²⁰ UNESCO. (2024). Togo: Education Country Brief. Retrieved from

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