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THE TUNISIAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM AND THE CHALLENGE OF QUALITY. Rapid Overview of the Educational System. Population of the Country : 10 million - GDP : 3,150$ per capita Pop. in Education: 2,200,000 pupils ( + 300 thousand students)

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rapid overview of the educational system
Rapid Overview of the Educational System

Population of the Country : 10 million - GDP : 3,150$ per capita

Pop. in Education: 2,200,000 pupils ( + 300 thousand students)

Educational Budget/GDP: 7,5% - Educ. budget./State : 30%

Enrollment ratio: 99% (6 years) - 90,5 (6-16 years) 76,1 (12-18 years)

Educational Coverage: 5,851 establishments  1 primary school per 2,250 habitants - 1 middle school and 1 high school per 7,851 inhabitants

Teachers: primary (59,739) – middle school and high school (71,247)

Average number of pupils per class:

primary (22/2) – middle school (30) – high school ( 25,5)

Average number of pupils per teacher:

primary (18,2) – middle school and high school (16,0)

average pupils per computer (2006) :

primary (30,3) – middle school (84) – high school (16,6)

three major reforms
Three Major Reforms

1958: Initial Reform construction of a unified national education system – goal: to enroll all children in school within ten years

1991:2ndReform adaptation of the system and establishment of a basic 9-year compulsory and free education

2002: 3rd Reform implementation of the “school for tomorrow” project- goal: quality education for all

the pioneering period the reform of 1958 and the challenge of universal education
The Pioneering Period: the Reform of 1958 and the Challenge of Universal Education

Starting Point 

a very low enrolment ratio (14%)

a divided educational system (3 sub-systems)

a small number of teachers

insufficient educational infrastructures

Solutions dictated by the urgency of the situation 

  • gradual establishment of a unified educational system (primary mission/ministry – secondary: sections a.b.c )
  • large-scale recruitment of primary school teachers with few qualifications (primary) and use of staff coming from foreign Cooperation Services and experienced primary teachers (sec.)
  • over-sized classes – premises rented from private individuals – average distance to school/LR exceeding 5 km
a six point summary
A Six-point Summary

1- Numerous benefits but the internal output of the system remains insufficient

2 – An Education of the mind of an encyclopedic kind  the pupils know a lot but they do not know how to do much

3 – Ever-increasing diversity which needs to be managed

5 – Excessive centralization and absence of accountability

6 – Lack of professionalism at every level of the system

The 1980s: a Pivotal Decade
  • the goal of universal primary education almost achieved educational infrastructures appropriate to needs
  • better trained teachers

but … too many failures / highly selective process for entry into secondary education / a system running out of steam …


 a general evaluation and preparation of a new period of reform, that of 1991

1995 – 2000

 a new stage

 new challenges

 new requirements

but first a summary …

the reform of 2002 a six part strategy
The Reform of 2002: a Six-Part Strategy
  • Placing the pupil, who is the chief stakeholder in the educational system, at the centre of the educational process
  • Professionalizing teachers and support staff
  • Giving the school a status and enhancing its prestige
  • Implementing the principles of equal opportunity and educational equity
  • Making information and communication technologies available for teaching and learning activities.
  • Modernizing the educational system and enhancing its capacity to fulfill the increasingly demanding requirements of society.
How to go about successfully conducting the management of change orthe difficulty of changing the educational environment
it is easier to design reform than to implement it
It is easier to Design Reform than to Implement it

What is needed for successful implementation of reform:

  • an appropriate definition of the choices and a rigorous conception of the desired Project
  • the capacity to implement the project on the ground, in the schools (institutional capacity – human and material resources…)
  • the capacity to mobilize the stakeholders around the project


  • the situation before reform, however unsatisfactory, offers a form of stability to which, with the passage of time, everyone has adapted.
  • reform, by upsetting this stability, creates a new and very disturbing situation which requires prior intelligent management and which must be properly negotiated afterwards, if we hope to achieve a new balance which includes both the integration of the changes brought about by the reform and the adaptation of the stakeholders to the situation that they have generated.
To successfully carry out Reform:

1- Adopting a Systemic approach

  • Influencing all the factors which determine quality at school level
    • educational factors: content and methods of learning, evaluation procedures, teaching tools
    • level of qualification and preparation of the teachers
    • management and running of the educational establishment
    • availability of equipment and educational support material
    • educational well-being
2 – Making Stakeholders accept Responsibility, giving free Rein to Initiative
  • developing a culture of evaluation at every level of the system
  • decentralizing, delegating increased authority to the regions
  • giving greater autonomy to schools and educational establishments

3 Key words: initiative, innovation, accountability

accountability means:

  • responsibility: everyone, at every level of the system, is responsible for his or her actions (provided that they are given the necessary resources and room to practice autonomy, to exercise this responsibility) 
  • and the need to achieve a result: people are responsible for what they do, and are bound by that very fact to account for the results of their actions
3-Professionalizing the Teachers and the Main Stakeholders in the Educational System

Professional teaching staff means teachers:

  • Who know both the science and the art of their profession,
  • Who are capable:

- of constructing and implementing an educational project which includes all the specificities of the context in which they are developing;

- of planning, evaluating, and managing various educational situations,

- of giving pupils a desire to learn, of modifying their teaching in the light of the evaluations carried out …

For school principal, professionalisation means:

  • Mastery of knowledge and of skills related to the areas of activity devolving from their responsibilities  (management – organization of school life – educational and administrative evaluation – steering and monitoring…)
  • Technical skills in the areas of management, IT, and communication.
  • But above all, attitudes and knowledge of appropriate behavior, such as leadership, the capacity to work in a team, an ability to listen, self control, and the skill of communicating with others.
4 – Positive Management of the Diversity of Pupil Populations
  • The issue of diversity arises simultaneously, though in different ways, at the three levels of the educational system:
  • The educational system (macroscopic level)
  • The school (mesoscopic level)
  • The class (microscopic level)
  • The management of diversity is:
  • Institutional – structural for the first level
  • Managerial - administrative for the second level
  • Educational for the third level
seven years later some lessons
Seven Years Later: Some Lessons
  • Accompanying action to be taken on all the parameters/determinants for success
  • Availability of structures and tools for effective monitoring and guidance to be ensured
  • The support of the stakeholders) teachers – support staff - parents ) to be ensured  information, training and communication
  • The training of teachers to be based on practical aspects of the profession
  • Systematic evaluation to be conducted for the purpose of regulation
  • Willing participation needed in comparative regional and international evaluations and learning the necessary lessons
  • Need to identify innovations and good practices and share them