« Teachers are the ones responsible for the falter of the Educational System in Tunisia »

 

« Teachers are the ones responsible for the falter of the Educational System in Tunisia » according to a high school teacher.

 

The educational system in Tunisia has been gradually collapsing ever since the 2000s especially with the termination of the national test that used to be taken at the 6th and 9th grades. The result of these tests was that only those who have the needed skills and potentials to pass to the next grade will succeed, since midterm exams are believed to not reflect the student’s true level.

One young French high school teacher confessed to The Tunis Times that “Teachers are the ones responsible for the falter of the educational system in Tunisia. Most of them teach unscrupulously. They are too lazy to make any extra effort for the benefit of the students. They come to class, they give the lesson and they walk away. They give a little and they expect great marks. Then, most of the marks turn out to be below average. Subsequently, these students go to their teachers begging for good enough marks to succeed. And in most of the cases, teachers do respond to them and give them extra points that would get them to pass to the next grade. That’s how their main concern transformed from improving their learning skills into getting better marks.”

She also gave us a deeper look at the primary Baccalaureate exams (le Bac Blanc) saying that “those marks are overrated. Since the “Bac Blanc” is 25% of the final Baccalaureate exam, teachers systematically give higher marks than the ones students actually deserve. That way, if the student gets a mark under but close to 10 at the final session, s/he will be saved by those 25%. I know this student who’s really bad at English and whose teacher is always complaining about him. He got a really good mark on his bulletin which he definitely does not deserve.”

This is how the current Tunisian educational system really works according to this insider. However, the system is nothing like that of the 60s according to one retired French teacher. He admitted to The Tunis Times that “Neither the students nor the teachers were like those of today. Back in the day, students were better learners. They were ambitious and motivated simply because they had horizons. Even the cases of indiscipline and fraud were rare.” He added saying that “Students used to be talented and used to enhance their talents. Generally, they’re either good at literature or at sciences. And when the time comes for orientation, they choose what they’re good at because they are sure they will find a job at the area where their studies revolved. Now, at high school, the department of Literature became like a last resort; when one does not have a talent, that’s what one studies. In most of the cases, one’s orientation depends on the job availability.”

People used to find a job immediately after graduation since the number of students who finish their studies is less than that of today. Nowadays, the total number of university students reached around 400 thousand by the year of 2012. In the 1970s, when future teachers graduate, they take their Diploma to the Ministry of Education and they get a job few days after submitting their requests. The retired teacher confirmed saying “When I graduated at the age of 24, I went to the Ministry of Education and I got a job in less than 30 minutes at the High school I proposed which was at my home town. I got lucky because we were few and teachers were in demand.”

Before, having a diploma means insuring a job. In the 1990s, the Minister of Higher Education declared that his ministry is no longer in charge of providing employment for every graduate student and that it is only responsible of students’ education. Ever since that announcement was made, the concept of the “intellectual unemployed” got introduced to the Tunisian arena of employment. In fact, according to those concerned, ministers in general do not necessarily care about solving their problems. They simply care about the number of bachelors and graduates when they are in charge of the Ministry so that they would prove that they are successful at what they do as ministers. That is the secret behind implementing the 25% of the primary Baccalaureate marks added to the final marks, according to the bulk of teachers.

The License-Masters-Doctorate system (LMD) added insult to injury. Ever since it has been implemented by the Ministry of Higher Education during the ZABA regime, it has damaged the educational system, teachers and students included. On the occasion of the National Day of Knowledge on July 15, 2005, the former President Ben Ali made a statement concerning the LMD system saying “We will continue our efforts to implement the choices we made to modernize the system of university degrees in our country, at the undergraduate, Master’s and doctoral (LMD), in harmony with the most advanced standards and systems. We call, in this regard, to associate the various faculties and university researchers to identify the best ways to achieve this orientation and promote this system.” Like many of his previous reforms, this one failed to meet the intended goals.

Since only a small percentage of the License graduates get to proceed with their Master’s studies, the rest of the graduates find themselves with a useless diploma after studying two and a half or three years instead of the usual four years. This move is beneficial only to the government since this way it will have less duties and responsibilities towards the students like housing, loans and grants among other things.

As for the MA students, they came to face new LMD problems mainly finding a supervisor for their MA dissertations. Some students spend more than six months to find an available supervisor. However, another problem that the students and thus the Ministry will face sooner or later is the fact that the universities are running out of supervisors since the number of teachers with a PhD is small and the ones that are already in office are reaching the retirement threshold.

Mr. Hlila, an English teacher at the Higher Institute of Languages in Tunis (Bourguiba School), said that back in the 90s, the government faced a similar issue. The universities had a small number of supervising teachers. In order to solve it, it undertook some measures like providing scholarships for those who wished to get their Master’s and Doctorate degree. Few years later, those who were sent abroad came back with their PhDs and the education wheel kept rolling till a couple of years ago.

Starting with the 2000s, true problems started to show up to surface especially with the number of unemployed Tunisians which kept escalating till the year of 2011. However, according to figures announced by the Ministry of Employment and Vocational Training, the number of unemployed in the country fell to 653 thousand by the end of December, 2012, compared to those 738 thousands at beginning of the same year.

The government has reached a dead end. It has no clue what to do next to solve the issue of unemployment and to improve the educational system since these two are deeply related and the latter became subject to the political will rather than the educational objectives.

One of the major solutions that benefited neither the students nor the unemployed was creating more specific branches at the faculties so that graduates would find more job opportunities. However, solutions like these do not work in Tunisia because those kind of specific jobs do not exist. On the contrary, it made the current situation even worse creating a huge rift between the types of diploma and the jobs that the government offers. They simply do not match.

Despite the obstacles, unsolved problems and the every-once-in-while conflicts between teachers and students, both of the latter came to agree on a number of possible solutions that would work out to the best for everybody. They proposed the restoration of the official national tests of the 6th and 9th grades, the deletion of the 25% in the Baccalaureate exam, intensive training courses for educators and scholarships to study abroad.

according to a high school teacher.

The educational system in Tunisia has been gradually collapsing ever since the 2000s especially with the termination of the national test that used to be taken at the 6th and 9th grades. The result of these tests was that only those who have the needed skills and potentials to pass to the next grade will succeed, since midterm exams are believed to not reflect the student’s true level.

One young French high school teacher confessed to The Tunis Times that “Teachers are the ones responsible for the falter of the educational system in Tunisia. Most of them teach unscrupulously. They are too lazy to make any extra effort for the benefit of the students. They come to class, they give the lesson and they walk away. They give a little and they expect great marks. Then, most of the marks turn out to be below average. Subsequently, these students go to their teachers begging for good enough marks to succeed. And in most of the cases, teachers do respond to them and give them extra points that would get them to pass to the next grade. That’s how their main concern transformed from improving their learning skills into getting better marks.”

She also gave us a deeper look at the primary Baccalaureate exams (le Bac Blanc) saying that “those marks are overrated. Since the “Bac Blanc” is 25% of the final Baccalaureate exam, teachers systematically give higher marks than the ones students actually deserve. That way, if the student gets a mark under but close to 10 at the final session, s/he will be saved by those 25%. I know this student who’s really bad at English and whose teacher is always complaining about him. He got a really good mark on his bulletin which he definitely does not deserve.”

This is how the current Tunisian educational system really works according to this insider. However, the system is nothing like that of the 60s according to one retired French teacher. He admitted to The Tunis Times that “Neither the students nor the teachers were like those of today. Back in the day, students were better learners. They were ambitious and motivated simply because they had horizons. Even the cases of indiscipline and fraud were rare.” He added saying that “Students used to be talented and used to enhance their talents. Generally, they’re either good at literature or at sciences. And when the time comes for orientation, they choose what they’re good at because they are sure they will find a job at the area where their studies revolved. Now, at high school, the department of Literature became like a last resort; when one does not have a talent, that’s what one studies. In most of the cases, one’s orientation depends on the job availability.”

People used to find a job immediately after graduation since the number of students who finish their studies is less than that of today. Nowadays, the total number of university students reached around 400 thousand by the year of 2012. In the 1970s, when future teachers graduate, they take their Diploma to the Ministry of Education and they get a job few days after submitting their requests. The retired teacher confirmed saying “When I graduated at the age of 24, I went to the Ministry of Education and I got a job in less than 30 minutes at the High school I proposed which was at my home town. I got lucky because we were few and teachers were in demand.”

Before, having a diploma means insuring a job. In the 1990s, the Minister of Higher Education declared that his ministry is no longer in charge of providing employment for every graduate student and that it is only responsible of students’ education. Ever since that announcement was made, the concept of the “intellectual unemployed” got introduced to the Tunisian arena of employment. In fact, according to those concerned, ministers in general do not necessarily care about solving their problems. They simply care about the number of bachelors and graduates when they are in charge of the Ministry so that they would prove that they are successful at what they do as ministers. That is the secret behind implementing the 25% of the primary Baccalaureate marks added to the final marks, according to the bulk of teachers.

The License-Masters-Doctorate system (LMD) added insult to injury. Ever since it has been implemented by the Ministry of Higher Education during the ZABA regime, it has damaged the educational system, teachers and students included. On the occasion of the National Day of Knowledge on July 15, 2005, the former President Ben Ali made a statement concerning the LMD system saying “We will continue our efforts to implement the choices we made to modernize the system of university degrees in our country, at the undergraduate, Master’s and doctoral (LMD), in harmony with the most advanced standards and systems. We call, in this regard, to associate the various faculties and university researchers to identify the best ways to achieve this orientation and promote this system.” Like many of his previous reforms, this one failed to meet the intended goals.

Since only a small percentage of the License graduates get to proceed with their Master’s studies, the rest of the graduates find themselves with a useless diploma after studying two and a half or three years instead of the usual four years. This move is beneficial only to the government since this way it will have less duties and responsibilities towards the students like housing, loans and grants among other things.

As for the MA students, they came to face new LMD problems mainly finding a supervisor for their MA dissertations. Some students spend more than six months to find an available supervisor. However, another problem that the students and thus the Ministry will face sooner or later is the fact that the universities are running out of supervisors since the number of teachers with a PhD is small and the ones that are already in office are reaching the retirement threshold.

Mr. Hlila, an English teacher at the Higher Institute of Languages in Tunis (Bourguiba School), said that back in the 90s, the government faced a similar issue. The universities had a small number of supervising teachers. In order to solve it, it undertook some measures like providing scholarships for those who wished to get their Master’s and Doctorate degree. Few years later, those who were sent abroad came back with their PhDs and the education wheel kept rolling till a couple of years ago.

Starting with the 2000s, true problems started to show up to surface especially with the number of unemployed Tunisians which kept escalating till the year of 2011. However, according to figures announced by the Ministry of Employment and Vocational Training, the number of unemployed in the country fell to 653 thousand by the end of December, 2012, compared to those 738 thousands at beginning of the same year.

The government has reached a dead end. It has no clue what to do next to solve the issue of unemployment and to improve the educational system since these two are deeply related and the latter became subject to the political will rather than the educational objectives.

One of the major solutions that benefited neither the students nor the unemployed was creating more specific branches at the faculties so that graduates would find more job opportunities. However, solutions like these do not work in Tunisia because those kind of specific jobs do not exist. On the contrary, it made the current situation even worse creating a huge rift between the types of diploma and the jobs that the government offers. They simply do not match.

Despite the obstacles, unsolved problems and the every-once-in-while conflicts between teachers and students, both of the latter came to agree on a number of possible solutions that would work out to the best for everybody. They proposed the restoration of the official national tests of the 6th and 9th grades, the deletion of the 25% in the Baccalaureate exam, intensive training courses for educators and scholarships to study abroad.

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