Tunisia: consulting on the way forward
IIEP attended the country’s first national conference on educational reform
The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in December 2010, before spreading to other Arab countries. Today, new political systems are coming into being, shaped by the will of the people, expressed through the ballot box. The new governments formed in the aftermath of the revolutions – some still transitional – have already taken serious steps towards educational reconstruction and reform. Their citizens have high expectations for education, and they strongly desire to participate in the shaping of new education systems.
As a response to this desire, and within the democratization process in Tunisia, a national conference on the “Methodology for the Reform of the Education System” was organized by the Ministry of Education in Tunis, 29–31 March 2012 – the first step in a much-needed national consultation process to draw a road map for the reform. Students, teachers, teacher unions, supervisors, educators, university professors, researchers, representatives of political parties and civil society organizations took part in the consultation. Representatives of a number of countries and multinational businesses, as well as of major UN organizations, including IIEP and UNESCO-Rabat Office, participated and made presentations about their experiences with educational reform and development.
IIEP shares its views, based on its international experience
IIEP Director Khalil Mahshi spoke about the lessons IIEP has learned from its engagement in many countries which have implemented successful educational reconstruction and reform. Chief among these lessons were: the need for political will and engagement at the highest level of policy- and decision-makers, regular consultation with and participation of stakeholders in policy setting and planning, and joint responsibility and accountability of all partners for the reform implementation.
Mr Mahshi also outlined a number of challenges currently facing the international community in development and education. He concluded his remarks by charting some of the priorities that might figure prominently on the post-2015 international agenda for educational development. These included: improvement of learning outcomes, engaging youth in planning education for social transformation and sustainable development, balance between women and men in leadership positions, overcoming corruption and achieving good governance in education, and conflict mitigation and disaster and risk reduction through education.
Discussions between the various Tunisian stakeholders at the Conference were intense, at times even heated. The vivid interest of all participants in developing post-revolution Tunisia, and in reforming its education system to respond to aspirations for societal development could not have been clearer. The Conference concluded with recommendations for the roadmap and the preferred methodology for educational reform, as well as concrete next steps for the near future. The most important of these concerned putting in place legislation and mechanisms for wide national participation in the educational reform, starting with in-depth diagnosis and evaluation of the education system. Specialized teams of educators, researchers, evaluators, and planners will be set up and entrusted with follow-up.