The Tunisian education sector has recognized its great progress just after the gain of independence from the French in 1956. Long before that, the country was absorbed in a sea of complete illiteracy. It was a nation in which only the Bourgeois and the elitists were granted the opportunity of learning different disciplines and expanding their knowledge. Unfortunately, the war against the colonizer has left nothing but destruction and demolition. However, in order to build a new modern Tunisia, reforms in the various political, economic and social aspects of the country require a crucial concern in education. Since 1958, the act of the nationalization of the different institutions has become a major responsibility for the young Tunisian government. Undoubtedly, the very first move towards a well-developed yet sufficient country was to introduce schooling as compulsory and free. Fortunately, this positive environment has led to positive accomplishments in the education system which placed Tunisia in the fourth place in MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) just after Israel, Lebanon and Jordan (2007).
Before referring to the different stages of the educational system, those following criteria may, hopefully, provide the reader with the information needed for a better understanding:
·Arabic is the main used language during the primary education phase
·French is a crucial language (Since Tunisia is a Francophone country par excellence) and it is basically taught in primary school, starting from the third grade (Apart from being a literary language, French is used as the language of research in different scientific disciplines, such as: Mathematics, physics, natural science, etc.)
·Private schools do exist for those who choose to not get enrolled in the public ones. However, they are frequently estimated to be of lower quality.
Concerning the various stages of the education system, there are actually four considerable stages:
Primary Education: This specific phase is considerably important for young children since it holds the basic need for a better shaping process of the personality of the child. The academic year starts from September and ends in June. Moreover, the legal age to be enrolled in a school is six years old (And the child basically finishes at the age of 11years old). During this phase, students are tested at the end of each trimester, whether through oral or written tests. In the first and second grade, students are taught how to write and read in Arabic. Whereas, starting from the third grade, French becomes fundamental for the learning process, and in the last fifteen years, English has gained its position, as well, in the education sector thanks to globalization. It is taught in the fifth grade. By achieving the sixth grade, students have to sit for a national exam in which they have to score at least fifty percent in order for them to be able to get into the next level of primary school.
Middle Education: The duration of this phase is exactly three years. It is identified as a preparatory period for the secondary school. This second cycle of basic education tends to enhance the intellectual capabilities and to develop the practical skills of the undergraduate students. Thus, it aims to prepare the young generation for the professional life and for responsibilities in general. By the end of the ninth grade, students have to sit for another national exam in which scoring less than fifty percent will not help them to go to secondary school. The acquired certificate is mainly called: Diploma of End of Studies of the Basic Education, or in French: Diplôme de Fin d’Etudes de l’Enseignement de Base.
Secondary Education:During this stage, changes do take place on so many levels: Firstly, French takes over in many scientific disciplines. Second, the act of pushing the students to think and criticize (Whether in philosophy or any other literary discipline) becomes a high priority and a necessity. Actually, in the last 2 years of this stage, education becomes a specialized education. Students have the right to choose any field of study that may go hand in hand with their potentials. As a matter of fact there are six main sections, which are:
·The industry-science leads to three sections (mathematics, experimental sciences and technical sciences)
·- Techniques of Informatics are being deepened and become computer science.
·- The courses in economics and provides services to economy-management
·- Literary section
By the end of this phase, and in order to take a step forward in the educational ladder, there is another determinative exam which is called: Examen National du Baccalauréat. Why is it determinative? As a matter of fact, it is considered as highly crucial because it determines the future career of every single student.
Tertiary Education: The beginning in this high education journey basically started with the University of Tunis in 1960. In 1986, three separate universities have derived from the latter. Nowadays, there are 13 universities, six in Tunis, and seven in the other largest cities. Along with them, there are numbers of thirty superior institutes, and 130 more of other different institutes. Concerning the private institutes, they have reached a number of 20 and even more.
The prevailing system of education in the Tunisian universities is basically BMD or LMD in French (Licence, Master, Doctorat).
In brief, needless to say that the educational system in Tunisia is still in the progressive form. To be more accurate, even though it has reached some high ranks in this concern, there are always various limitations that require reforms. It also needs to be noted that after the revolution of 2011, things have become a bit chaotic. Thus, reconsidering what it is at hand is undoubtedly one of the many necessities of life in Tunisia.