Honourable Mention: Daniel Addeh
Daniel Addeh is a young Togolese journalist. For 10 years, he has been working as a journalist, presenter and reporter. In addition to his work on television, he collaborates with several newspapers and foreign news sites such as: Africa 24 magazine, Our Afrik, Irinews, Free Law TV and New Tribune. Daniel is also the winner of the Accer Awards (2016) and the Lorenzo Natali Prize Media (2017).
Access to quality education is the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) of the United Nations. In Togo, the efforts made by the authorities in the field of education are jeopardized by the lack of electricity in rural areas.
Jean koutoglo, 13, shows signs of fatigue in this afternoon of May 2016. Dressed in rags and dripping with sweat, he struggles to respect the pace of walking imposed by his seniors. He carries, barefoot, for ten minutes a bundle of wood on the head. Like many other children of his age, he bends to the same exercise twice a week. “By transporting these bundles of wood regularly, you get used to it. I make the same trip on Wednesdays afternoon and Saturdays morning,” he says in a broken voice.
This young student of the Middle School 2nd year (MS2) prepares, for the second time, to pass the examination of the certificate of study of the First degree (CEDP). Due to the lack of electricity in the village, he cannot revise his lessons in the evenings, if he doesn’t reload the batteries, once a week, of the torch his father bought him. To do this, he must go to the field, cut wood in the forest and sell it to the highest bidder. His story is identical to many schoolchildren in the examination class of this little village, located more than 50km from Lomé, the capital of Togo.
The torches were not enough to raise their level
The village of Agbetim has only one primary school. In this school, the results on the examination of the Certificate of Study of the first degree never passed the 25% mark, according to Akouete Touma, Director of the said school since its creation. To change the situation, he and his staff put in place a strategy: “We thought that children did not revise their lessons after classes. This is why we summoned all the parents, and asked them to buy torches or lamps for the children to revise their courses at night” explains Jacques Bolouvi, teacher of the Middle Year 2 course (MS2). “But after two years, the record is always mixed. In 2014, out of 20 students, only four were admitted. The year that followed, only 6 were admitted on 22 candidates,” he continues, worried.
The method did not work, since the parents of students being mostly illiterate, could not supervise their children at home during the revisions. “Following these failures, several parents simply removed their children from school,” adds Jacques Bolouvi.
The seniors show the way
It needed more than torches to boost the school results of the learners of the village of Agbetim. Its inhabitants had never seen public electricity. But since September 2016, a solar-powered street lamp stands in the center of the village. With a power of 145 watts, its installation was made possible through the combined efforts of the young Franco Dolagbenou, a native of the community and his classmates. “I did not grow up in the village. But every time I had the opportunity to go there, I was always dismayed by the conditions of study of these students,” he said. He was not asked to put his know-how to the benefit of his family.
“We hope, with this project, to increase the rate of schooling of children, and reduce the number of pregnancies among schoolgirls in the village,” he says confidently.
This 28-year-old computer scientist is one of the winners of the “2016 Climate Initiatives” for his commitment to protection in Togo. After the first phase that allowed the installation of the lamp, it also proceeded to the electrification of the main school building of the said village thanks to solar energy.
Renewable energies to fight poverty in rural areas
It has been several years since Togbui Dossou, 51, looks at the future of the students in his village with concern. He quickly realized, having repeatedly visited the capital Lomé, that the latter were less likely to succeed in studies. “An educated child is more likely to find a job and eventually help other family members get out of poverty,” he says.
The latest report of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the importance of education in the fight against poverty, goes in the same direction: “education is one of the essential conditions for the drafting of poverty “.
The situation is alarming in the field, as 71.6% of rural populations use the flashlight to light according to the Directorate General of Statistics and National Accounts.
The results are waiting for you
Since the installation of solar panels in the village, the life of the learners has changed considerably. Students can now take part in the rehearsal classes, initiated by their teachers in today’s enlightened classes thanks to Solar Energy. “The level of our students has definitely improved. We are confident that the results of this year’s first-degree certificate will be better,” says Jacques Bolouvi.
Learners rating is also satisfaction. Jean Koutoglo, meeting a few months later at the public fountain of the village, still does not come back. He no longer has, in addition to his domestic work, to perform the painful activities of collecting wood.
“I’m not going to cut wood in the bush anymore. I have more time to rest and study my lessons” he says, smiling. This year may be the right one for him. If he succeeds in the examination of the (CEDP) in June, he will be able to continue his studies and realize his dream of becoming a doctor. A chance that many young schoolchildren in rural areas often do not have.”