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Secondary Education

General Survey: In 1998, approximately 800,000 students were enrolled in secondary schools covering the three grades of the second cycle of basic education (the lower-secondary level) and the four final grades of secondary education. Secondary schools numbered 760 public institutions in 1995-1996, educating 725,900 students who were taught by 30,170 teachers in classes averaging 24.1 students each. An additional 68,500 students were served by private secondary schools that year. Of the five areas of pre-specialization taught in the final two years of public secondary schools in 1995-1996, the greatest proportion of students (37.3 percent) chose the field of letters and the smallest (9.8 percent) chose the technical track. An additional 17,700 students were enrolled in special technical training schools that year. By the late 1990s, 74.3 percent of students in the age-relevant groups for the secondary grades were enrolled in secondary education.

Educational reforms during the 1990s at the secondary level were supported by a World Bank loan-funded project, "Secondary Education Support Project." The objectives of the project were to assist the Tunisian government in implementing basic and secondary education reforms designed to improve quality and efficiency and to enable schools to accommodate the expected increase in numbers of upper-basic and secondary students in the coming years. These objectives were to be met through Bank financing to improve educational performance evaluation and assessment systems, to promote better teaching and training practices for an estimated 26,000 teachers, pedagogic and orientation counselors, and school inspectors, to strengthen feedback mechanisms between the secondary schools and the Ministry of Higher Education, to construct 30 upper-basic and 44 secondary schools, to rehabilitate upper-basic and secondary schools in greatest need of repair and to establish preventive maintenance for schools, and to provide teaching equipment, training, and technical assistance.

Repeaters & Dropouts: Only three-fourths of secondary students were promoted in 1994-1995, and the global retention rate was 16.5 percent, meaning one in every six students was held back. The global dropout rate that year was 8.7 percent, reflecting a continual problem in Tunisian schools of students' falling out of the educational system along the way. A review of the size of each grade level indicates that as students progressed through secondary school, their numbers diminished with each grade, the result of which was that in 1995-1996 the grade 7 class of secondary students was only 36 percent as large as the grade 1 secondary class.

Secondary-Level Vocational & Nonformal Education: In addition to the technical skills-training classes included within the regular public secondary schools, private schools, and the special technical-training secondary schools, on-the-job training and apprenticeships have been utilized in Tunisia as alternative methods of preparing skilled workers for employment. For example, local artisans such as the potters and ceramics workers of the eastern coastal city of Nabeul have long used the apprenticeship method to train skilled crafts workers. Besides the more organized apprenticeships, on-the-job, and vocational training programs, informal training has traditionally been provided at home, especially in the rural areas, in traditional crafts. For example, many rural girls and young women learn to weave traditional kilim, the colorful, geometrically patterned Bedouin dyed-wool rugs of North Africa, in their homes, often using locally grown wool they have spun into yarn. As Tunisia increasingly engages itself in tourism as a means of economic development and advancement for the country, the crafts produced by local artisans become increasingly valuable and marketable. To this end, the Tunisian government has established a cooperative society of artisans (SOCOPA) to assist in marketing artisanal crafts in Tunisia and abroad. Throughout Tunisia, SOCOPA display rooms and stores attract buyers and tourists interested in purchasing locally produced crafts ranging from basketwork to pottery to glassware to leatherwork to finely detailed gold and silver jewelry to delicately embroidered clothing.

The Tunisian educational reforms currently underway include fostering public-private partnerships between Tunisian schools and the business sector, leading to greater collaboration on such educational programs as on-the-job training and apprenticeships. The goal of Tunisia's efforts in this area is to better match the skills needed by business and industry with those in which young Tunisians are being trained in order to reduce unemployment and stimulate the private economy. Additionally, efforts are being made to train students for self-employment so they can earn a living even when wage-labor jobs are in short supply.

Additional topics

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