The government has closed all schools in Lome, the capital of Togo, as the result of an ongoing teachers’ strike.

High school students have come out in support of their teachers who are striking for better conditions and decent pay in the country’s schools. The children surrounded schools where pupils and teachers were still working – in particular private schools – as well as marching on the ministry of education to demand that the minister speak to them. Security forces have been out in numbers and the government took the decision to close the schools in order to try and avoid a confrontation with the schoolchildren.

One school student interviewed at the end of the video clip above – says ‘we are striking for the teachers – for some there are millions – for the teachers there is nothing.’

As in so many countries in the Global South, Togo has been under the tutelage of the IMF, which – in exchange for ‘debt’ relief has insisted on privatisation and public spending cuts. Togo has extensive mineral resources, such as phosphates as well as agricultural land, and if these were used for the good of the people of Togo then there would be plenty of money for education. Instead, through the good offices of international finance institutions like the IMF and the World bank they are exploited by foreign corporations like and the .

Last Wednesday other workers joined the teachers on strike including some health workers and other public servants. Togo’s schools are desperately underfunded, the abolition of school fees in an effort to meet the goal of education for all by 2015, was not met with any new funding – as a result class sizes increased and teachers were having to pay out of their very low salaries for basic education materials like chalk and paper.