Serendip's Togo connection

Susan White, Associate Professor and Chair of the Chemistry Department at Bryn Mawr College, worked with the Peace Corps in the West African nation of Togo from 1978 to 1981, teaching physical sciences in public high schools in the Plateau region. While working on her Ph.D at Johns Hopkins University and during subsequent postdoctoral work at Yale, Susan remained in touch with Togolese friends and teachers. After joining the Bryn Mawr faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1991, Susan returned to Togo for two weeks in 1994, for a quick visit in 1998, and for two weeks in 2000. During each of these visits, Susan talked with teachers, school administrators, and government officials about how Americans and Togolese might work together to enhance educational opportunities internationally. Materials presented here are aimed at developing ways to bring American and Togolese educators and students closer together.

A New High School, Lycee de Tahoun, in Tahoun, Moyen-Mono Prefecture

Created in September 1997, Lycee de Tahoun was housed in buildings constructed by the teachers and students themselves. Such buildings are constructed from locally available trees and thatch and called "apatames". Each year, two new apatames have had to be constructed, since the Lycee began with two tracks (math/science and language/literature) of tenth graders who have gone to the next grade while new classes of tenth graders have been added.

The picture above left shows two of the completed apatames, with the construction of a new one progressing in the background. The picture to the right is a closer view of the construction process. The man with the briefcase to the right in the picture is the school's Principal.
Construction of more permanent buildings started in December 1999 on a site about a mile away. The new building will provide space for four classes and offices. A second nearby building will house additional classes when it is completed. In the meanwhile two apatames will be built on the site.
The Principal is to the left and the construction site watchman to the right in this photo. The first building is near completion as of February 2000, with well-digging and landscaping still to be done.

Books and equipment for the school are still being gathered. Maps, technical and reference books, laboratory equipment, sport equipment are among the things in short supply. There is currently no onsite source of electricity, but a generator, making possible use of other powered equipment, is hoped for. Anyone interested in contributing funds or donating materials should contact Susan White