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Preprimary & Primary Education

General Survey: Although kindergartens exist in Tunisia, improving and expanding quality early-childhood programs will be supported through future World Bank funding, in collaboration with the Tunisian government. Primary schools, in contrast, are now plentiful throughout Tunisia, the government having made it a priority over the last several decades of the twentieth century to expand primary education so that all Tunisian children could be enrolled, an effort rewarded with remarkable success. School subjects taught at the primary levels include spoken and written Arabic and French, mathematics, science, history, religion, art, and music. Future plans to include training in computers and information technology at the primary level will be implemented after all secondary and preparatory schools in Tunisia are outfitted with computers and connected to the Internet.

In 1998, approximately 1.5 million students were enrolled in the primary cycle of basic education, grades 1-6. In 1995-1996 there were 4,349 public primary schools delivering basic education to almost 1.5 million primary students, 47.1 percent of which were girls. Taught by 59,430 teachers, the students were grouped in classes averaging 24.6 students each. An additional 8,900 students received primary education in private schools. By the late 1990s, about 92 percent of all primary students were reaching grade 5. Gross primary enrollment rates at that time were 116 percent (119 percent for boys and 112 percent for girls); corresponding net enrollment figures were 97 percent for boys and 94 percent for girls. The enrollment ratio of girls to boys for the primary grades was 94 percent by the late 1990s.

Repeaters & Dropouts: For years, repetitions and dropouts have been serious problems in Tunisian schools from the primary through university cycles. In 1994-1995 the global repetition rate at the primary level was 17.27 percent; greater than one child in six was a repeater. The same year, the dropout rate for the first six grades was 4.4 percent. In 1995-1996 high repetition rates were apparent in all six of the primary grades, ranging from 13.8 percent to 25.4 percent, with the worst repetition rate occurring in grade 6, marking the transition from primary to lower-level secondary school. These problems of high repetition and dropout rates already drew attention in 1982, when an educational analyst wrote, "As does its French counterpart, the highly selective Tunisian school system generates large numbers of repeaters and dropouts at all levels. Students are forced out of school if they fail the end-of-cycle exams repeatedly or if they reach the age limit" (Allman 34).

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceTunisia - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education