Teachers and other union leaders were subject to a violent attack by 20 members of a government backed militia last week as they prepared for a meeting of the STT union, which has been co-ordinating strikes of health workers and teachers over the last period. The strike took place in Dapaong in the North of the country.

As we reported last month, the teachers are demanding to be paid a living wage. As a school student out protesting for the teachers' demands put it: 'Sometimes our teachers can't even pay for food. The government must respect their commitment. Its important for the future of the country.'

The government has threatened teachers with the sack and its leaders with arrest ever since the start of the strike campaign. Now it has stepped up its repression by attacking them physically.  The attacks caused severe head injuries and concussion, according to reports. At the scheduled meeting of the STT, a military jeep was parked outside with a machine gun aimed at the building

Far from the violence and threats halting the teachers' campaign however, they have stepped it up according to reports yesterday. A series of short strikes and occupations has been escelated to an all out strike and they are demanding the resignation of the education minister following the violence meted out to the union leaders at Dapaong.

This struggle by teachers and school students in Togo, even in the face of state violence, makes nonsense of the claims by the giant corporation Pearson, the World Bank, the Gates Foundation and others that one of the keys to the lack of school attendance and educational graduation in the global South is smart data. Until teachers are paid a living wage and they and their students are given proper conditions in which to learn and work, there can be no solution of any sort. The passionate desire of the students to be educated, as well as their solidarity with their teachers, is clear. But as long as the wealth of Togo is syphoned off by foreign corporations, helped by corrupt politicians, the World Bank and the IMF, these students are unlikely to be able to realise their dreams.  

It was reported in the Togolese press  that the teachers had received international solidarity from the GEW teachers union in Germany. The importance of such messages of support cannot be overestimated - especially in the light of the latest violence - they should be received from teachers all over the world. Here is one way of showing support.