Why Togo? by Donald Barclay, President, SET

Why are We in Togo? A Refresher

Many of our donors and supporters ask me the question, “Why Togo?”  The general answer has been, “Not many people care about or invest in the children of Togo, the country’s future, so we better.”  This was the conclusion that four founders of SET drew back in 2011, our starting year.

In the Togo public schools primary classroom sizes often exceed fifty students.

I was recently reviewing this question and decided to look at how Togo is doing as a country.  If the country is not doing well, all the more reason to invest in Togo’s future through its children’s education.  What did I find?  I was guided by an informative website www.countryeconomy.com.  Here is where things stand.

A family gathers in the household’s kitchen in rural Togo.

Togo is a sliver of a country in West Africa. Sixty km wide nudged in between Ghana and Benin. It’s 600 km from south to north from the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) to the border with Burkina Faso.  A population of 8.25 million.

One of the most telling measures of where the country stands is the UN’s World Happiness Index where Togo ranks 135/153 countries.  Similarly, Togo ranks 167/189 on the UN’s Human Development Index, a measure of the progress of the country.

A rural community’s complete water supply is in this cement cistern.

GDP per capita is $914 in Togo versus $43,295 in Canada.  This ranks Togo 151/196 countries.  The risk of poverty in Togo is 55.1% and life expectancy is 61 years versus 82 years in Canada.

Importantly, per capita expenditure on education in Togo is $44 per year versus Canada at $2,751.

Statistics do not completely answer the question of “Why Togo?”  We are in Togo because we saw the children with a joy and an expectation to move ahead in their lives.  We saw parents, teachers and principals looking for ways to advance their country through children’s education.  It’s both the statistics and these attitudes and dreams that drive us on.

Women of Ataregbe celebrate the opening of the new SET school.


Thanks to our supporters who share our passion and trust us to make a difference.



2 thoughts on “Why Togo? by Donald Barclay, President, SET”

  1. Dorothy Schwartz

    Education for the children of Togo will make a huge difference. You are doing great things there.

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