While and interpretation of information about these events

While studying This module  ,  it
became crystal clear  to me  that education as we know it today did not
emerge in  a vacuum .  Indeed  ,
is deeply rooted in history . What follows from this is that   history and education are deeply intertwined  .   There  is
no debate that history is not a mere record , accumulation  and narration of dates and events . History  is an umbrella term
that synthesizes  past events as well as the memory, discovery,
collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about
these events .  Education   , in its turn , continues
over time, linking our current  society
to its past and to its future. It creates capacities for practice that
transform the social arrangements that have come to us from the past. Education
is, therefore, a field that links to, and draws from, knowledge across the
disciplines of the social sciences and humanities.

Why study the
history of the Tunisian Education ?

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It is important to
study and understand history as George Santayana said ” Those who cannot
remember the past are condemned to repeat it “. In any human endeavour ,  it is of utmost importance to understand what
works and what does not   . As a future inspector it is important to
have a breadth of knowledge about the history 
of education  in my country , its  twists  and  turns throughout the ages in order to widen
my knowledge and scope to  help
create  solid foundation to plan for our
present and future education development .

Delving deep into
the history of education  in my country will  help me  examine present trends and dynamics in
education , educational policies , philosophical ideas  guiding the education system  in order to draw practical lessons from the
past , avoid possible mistakes ,  and
initiate more viable plans for the benefit of  our school and to a large extent  our society . Adequate knowledge of the
contributions of the ancient nations and scholars to the development of
education places a weighty  responsibility on the shoulders of would be
inspectors , It also  can serve as an
incentive to encourage   them  to  be
willing to contribute their  own quota .


A timeline of the history of The Tunisian Education

A quick overview of the history of Tunisian education  over the course of time tells us that this  little northern corner of Africa was home to
an impressive array of cultural traditions and archaeological treasures left by
the variety of people who inhabited it  .
This cross-cultural  encounters  for nearly 32 centuries has made of Tunisia a
polyglot nation .

Strategically located at the
crossroads of the Mediterranean, Africa, and the Middle East and just a short
distance from Europe, Tunisia has long been the scene of interactions among
countless tribes and peoples of Africa, Asia, and Europe as they have traded
with each other, drawn from and sometimes conquered each other’s civilizations

We learn about the berbers , an ancient  indigenous group , the Phoenicians who
immigrated to Tunisia from the eastern Mediterranean coast , making the land
part of the famous Carthage empire .The Romans Followed in  49 BC . The Arabs took over in the 7th
century , Then came the Ottomans  and Finally
the French .

The legacy of the remnants of old civilizations in Tunisia attests  to the many social threads that were woven
into this small country . Unfortunately 
The phonecian language , and the Carthagian writings , books and
libraries did not survive  until nowadays
because of the Punic  wars .

Islamic education  ( 647- 1574)

In 670 AD  the Mosque of Uqba was constructed and it
soon became a centre of education both in
Islamic thought and in the secular sciences. Its role can be compared to that
of the University of Paris in the Middle
Ages.   However ,   with
the decline of the city of Kairouan from the mid 11th century, the centre of
intellectual thought moved to the University of Ez-Zitouna in Tunis.

Ez-Zitouna mosque 
founded  around 703 AD, and became the
center of Tunisia’s Islamic scholarship and preaching.  The Great Mosque as it was called at that time
 is one of the oldest and most famous
mosques throughout the Islamic World. The mosque is renowned as a place of
worship and more particularly for the leading and long-standing scientific and
cultural role it has assumed since  its
foundation . 
Dispensing a teaching of Islamic Sciences since  737 C.E., the Zitouna Mosque  has continuously performed its educational
role for thirteen centuries. In its double capacity as a university and a place
of worship  , The teaching at the Zitouna
encompassed  a wide range of  syllabuses including Islamic religious and
literary subjects, philosophy, intellectual sciences, mathematics, medicine and

The Military School of Bardo

Ahmed Bey
established  Bardo military academy in
1840 to train an officer corps in the new equipment and latest military
strategies and tactics . Subjects taught 
at the academy consisted of military , art and history , artillery ,
topography , French and Italian languages , and Arabic language and literature
.In contrast to the teaching at the Zitouna mosque , which specialized in
religious sciences and related topics , Bardo  military  academy introduced its students to the
civilization of the Northern Mediterranean region . The school employed modern
European pedagogic principles that fostered active and participatory learning ,
and a Socratic approach to debate and inquiry . European and Tunisian
instructors were in charge of training and education . Among these instructors
there was sheik Mohamed Qabadu ( 1812 -1871) who influenced Tunisia ‘s reform
movement ,taught Arabic language and literature , and , with some of his most brilliant
students , translated  European works and
military treaties into Arabic .

Sadiki school ( 1875) :  a pinnacle of  Tunisian  education

Khayr al-Diyn Pacha  , a reforming prime minister , had founded
the school in 1875 to provide a European type of  education within the framework of .  This school taught a curriculum oriented toward
the modern world, instruction being in Arabic and also in several European languages. 
  Historically  , This school has provided a bicultural,
bilingual education. Many of the Tunisian elites  graduated from this school. The graduates of
Sadiki placed a bilingual education system in Tunisia after its independence.  These graduates became the leaders of the
Tunisian  nationalist movement in the
20th century.

 The Tunisian
Education system under the French Protectorate ( 1881 – 1956)

French presence, despite its negatives, did present few  Tunisians with opportunities to become
better acquainted with recent European advances. Modernizing
projects had already been an articulated goal of the reform movements
initiated under the Beys prior to the French .  During the French Protectorate, the
goals of Tunisian educators in general developed, so as to include more
the introduction of modern fields of study, namely, those leading toward
the utilitarian knowledge practiced in Europe. The French language was
the favored medium in new schools set up by the French Church, initially
established primarily for children of French settlers, such as Collège
Saint-Charles de Tunis in 1875.Yet many urban Tunisians also sought for
their children learning opportunities oriented to the acquisition of
modern skills useful in the workplace. The Tunisian elites struggled
against Protectorate resistance to such access .Over time,  a new educational regime was created,
including instruction in French open to Tunisians. This took place in the
political context of the Protectorate, of course, affecting the existing
Muslim institutions of learning, secular Tunisian advancement, and the
instruction of young French colons.
In  1883 
The French  set up
Directorate of Public Education to 
further promote schools for teaching children of French officials
and colons, and to further the spreading use of the French language. Its
goals widened to include education in general. This Directorate
eventually administered, or directed, all the different educational
institutions and systems in Tunisia, which it sought to modernize,
coordinate, grow and expand. Soon established in Tunis were the new mixed
Collège Alaoui, and for women the new École Rue du Pacha and École Louise
René Millet . Sadiki College, however, became the  First secondary school in the country,
which offered to an emerging Tunisian elite a secular, well-developed,
French-language program. These reforms set the stage for further advances
made in Tunisian education since independence. The colonial authorities
did their utmost to impose their educational policy in order to
marginalize and muzzle the  role of
the Tunisian educated  elite  . Nevertheless, demands for reform
continued by the National Movement activists, and finally culminated in
achieving independence
The Tunisian education
system after independence (1956 – 2002 ) 


Independence  , Tunisia has made
significant progress in overcoming the challenge of educating an
alarmingly   high illiteracy rate
among  its   population .  Indeed  ,
Tunisian education officials have been working to develop an education system
that is responsive to the needs of a rapidly developing country, while also
emphasizing the need to develop a distinct national and regional identity.The
focus of education reformers has been to “Arabize” curriculum and produce  a skilled Tunisian workforce that is able to
build and manage a modern economy.

Believing it was necessary to create a strong workforce, put
a strong emphasis on public education, working to make it available
and free to all Tunisians.  Tunisian
Officials  felt that in order to
modernize and instill nationalism, the population had to be well educated. One
of the first steps  taken  was to
nationalize the schools. In order to extend education to the masses,  in 1958, a law was passed that made
public education free to all children. One of the primary emphases in
educational policy was to expand the number of schools available to
the Tunisian people.  Many of the
institutions were nationalized.   And In 1970, all subjects were ‘Arabized ‘in
school level education, except for technical and vocational education.  The Education Reform Law of 1958  emphasized technical and vocational education,
and the training of a corps of Tunisian educators qualified to teach a new
uniform school curriculum emphasizing Arabic language and literature, Islamic
thought, and the history and geography of the Tunisian and North African
region. In the university sector, the government established the University of
Tunis  in 1960 by incorporating several
existing higher schools and institutes. The new university acted as a
springboard for the development of tertiary studies in the country. A higher
education law passed in 1969 placed all government-recognized institutions of
higher learning and scientific research under the umbrella of the university of
Tunis (UT) .  In 1986, the faculties,
schools and institutes of UT were separated into three distinct universities,
which have in turn been reorganized over time to form new universities.  Enrollments within the tertiary sector  grew 
exponentially after the passing of the higher education law of 1969,

The success of education reforms  is in many ways illustrated through the rate
of literacy which  has increased
significantly eversince independence. In 1980, it was estimated that the
literacy rate had risen to 50 per cent for the population over the age of

In 1991, the New Education Act introduced a reformed
educational structure which increased the length of instruction at the primary
and secondary levels from 12 years to a total of 13, and mandated that the
first nine years of education be compulsory. Reform and restructuring plans within
the higher education sector  aimed at
realigning tertiary training to be more in tune with the needs of the
workplace, while also being more internationally comparable and transferable .

The official
language of instruction at the school level is Arabic; French is introduced as
a foreign language in the third year of school studies. Many technical subjects
are taught in French beginning in the secondary cycle and to a greater extent
at the tertiary level.


The education
Law ( 2002 ) : a quest for quality , equity and efficiency


 This reform, has endeavored to make education
a priority and a  fundamental right
guaranteed to all Tunisians.  This law
stipulates that The School is set to have 
a major mission and three major functions. The mission of the school is  to instill in students   a sense of national identity and patriotism  and to strengthen the openness  to the universal values  such as knowledge, work, solidarity,
tolerance and moderation . The school is   
 ” the guarantor of
the establishment of a deeply cultural identity, open to modernity and inspired
by the humanist ideals and universal principles of freedom, democracy, social
justice and human rights ” (article 3).

To carry out its mission,
the school must fulfill in coherence and synergy three main functions:


1-   Educate: As part of its educational
function, the school will focus on citizenship,

of the individual in all its dimensions, the taste for the effort and the
respect of the common values ??and the rules of the living- together.

2-    Instruct: This classical function
of the school aims to guarantee to all pupils 
quality education that enables them to acquire general knowledge and
theoretical and practical knowledge, develop their gifts and their ability to
learn by  themselves; and to integrate
into the knowledge society.

3-    Qualify:
In today’s world, it is incumbent on the school to develop the skills and
know-how necessary for the  development
of lifelong learning.

order to carry out these functions, the law provides  various measures, including,


? The assertion that
“the student should be placed at the center of education system “with
all its implications for the pedagogy, school life and the rights and duties of

? Establishment of new
management structures (advice Teachers’ Council, Governing Board, Project establishment)
in order to encourage participation, consultation and dialogue within schools.

? The adaptation of new pedagogical

? Establishment of new
study programs.

? Adoption of new
evaluation systems favoring formative evaluation, continuous monitoring and
banning of excessive selectivity and abusive failure.

? Reform of the secondary
cycle in the direction of greater diversity courses and better orientation of

? Introduction of  ICT as  a teaching aid  


order to improve the quality of teaching and research , Tunisia started
investing in digital technology to support education .In 2002 , the country
launched the virtual university of Tunis , whose initial mandate extended to
integrating information and communication technologies  into the higher education sector .


Education System To Face Widespread Reforms


the aftermath of the  2011 revolution ,
Tunisian authorities  started introducing
 a series of reforms as part of the
strategic plan for the education sector  .This plan aims to improve quality standards
through improved teacher training , upgraded curricula  and infrastructure , as well as an enhanced
framework for private sector partnerships .

The  measures included  the introduction of a preparatory year prior
to the first year of primary schooling . The school calendar  was also overhauled .The academic schedule  was also reorganized from a trimester to a
semester system , a measure which was set to extend the number of teaching days
from 130 to 193 .

comprehensive reform package was   expected to respond to the most pressing
challenges currently facing the country at both the basic and secondary levels
, in particular high dropouts  which
reached about 100000 each year, a lack of 
infrastructure  and low quality
standards .Despite the huge investment in education that led to high
enrolment  and literacy rates , the
outcome is still very poor . Tunisia performed poorly in  OECD’s international student assessments such
as PISA and TIMMSS .


 My reflection


before studying this 12- hour module I had  only a
vague idea about the history  of Tunisian
education  , and the   reforms that had taken place before and after
independence .  Professor Mokhtar  Ayachi sketched out the outstanding changes
which have taken place in the evolution of 
education in Tunisia Through the course of 32 centuries .

 Almost six decades after
independence , and with all the reforms that have taken place , the need
for  reform is still undeniable . Though
Tunisia’s education policies  have led to
high enrolment rates at the basic education level and a sharp increase in  literacy rates , quality is still missing in
our system . Still there is a mismatch between educational outcomes and labour
market needs . This mismatch has led to a glut of  teachers , engineers , lawyers , doctors ,
but a shortage  of human resources  , and in other needed professions .

On the surface  , Tunisia has
achieved significant gains in the education sector . Access to primary , basic
and secondary schools has increased exponentially  over the last few  decades 
. However the quality of education in its multi-level ( primary / basic/
secondary / higher ) remains in question .

While it is true to say that the inspectorate body forms the  underpinnings 
of education  system  , its role is somehow marginalized . The
inspectorate body   provides advice and information to the
ministry of education , takes part in the training and recruitement of teachers
, as well as the supervision of their activities and the evaluation of the
education system as a whole . This evaluation covers the content of education ,
curricula , teaching methods ,  techniques
employed and school results .However , the evaluation results compiled by
inspectors are not actually used to improve the quality of education . Inspectors
still work in a bureaucratic , top-down model that regards monitoring from the
point of view of compliance and not school improvement . Shifting from the
current view of monitoring from a simply regulatory process to a self
improvement process will require time and new instrument in our country .

The transformation from a focus on quantity to one on the quality takes
a lot of time as Voltaire said ” perfection is attained by slow degrees , it
requires the hand of time ”

 Nowadays Our country is faced
with  an increasing  challenge of improving its education system
while being subjected to other constraints 
where political  instability  coupled with  social unrest . It should be noted that
importing or transferring models of education 
from developed countries  will not
be compatible with our social , cultural , and economic context . 

To this end , there is an urgent need to overhaul the whole education
system .The success of  this measure
hinges on the unification of efforts between all major players  , and stakeholders . Learning from the
previous pitfalls that characterized educational reforms may be a springboard
whereby to craft a promising educational system .

A new national institution must be created to monitor and improve the
quality of education in Tunisia . Inspectors , researchers and policy-makers
should work together to evaluate the whole education system and suggest
workable plans and measures that fit our social , cultural , and economic
context  , and that are effective and
efficient  to build a national consensus
around educational reform  , and for
continued support of national comprehensive educational policy .

Education in Tunisia has long roots and has borne good fruit and it is
seen as a key element in the overall national policy of development .Consistent
and recurrent efforts for improving education took place throughout the history
of Tunisia .this can be described graphically :