Tunisia: Engineering Students Revolt Against the System

On Friday morning, January 16, 2015, students of engineering carried out a protest in front of the Ministry of Higher Education to demand a review of the recently undertaken decisions, which include measures that enable the vocational training graduates to join the national school of engineering and get an engineering degree.

Protesters also called for the review of the system and policies exercised by the private schools of engineering.

It all started on January 8, 2015.. 

Testimony of an ENSIT graduate and Engineer  

Yazid is a 26 year-old engineer who graduated from ENSIT (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Ingénieurs de Tunis). He complained about the recent decision made by the Ministry of Higher Education which says that even students who could not succeed in the Baccalaureate exam can in fact apply to proceed their studies to finally have an engineering degree. He also said that “the quality of engineering studies in Tunisia is quickly dropping because the laws covering this area of studies are focused more on administrative procedures and not on quality.”


Engineering Students Respond Creatively 

Students from IPEIM and FSM acted a scene that depicts the mistreatment to which engineering students are being exposed by the administration and the Ministry of Higher Education.

The following video is shot at ENIS. It is a parody of a song by Bendir man that appeared during the very first months of the Tunisian revolution. It heavily criticized the private schools of engineering and the minister of Higher Education, Tawfiq Jlassi.

This is another video shot by ENIS where students show the difference between private and public school engineers from primary school to the moment they apply for a job.

Engineers Resort to the Streets

Students headed to the gates of the Ministry of Higher Education to manifest against the undertaken measures regarding the private schools of engineering. The manifestations which have been held since January 8, 2015, included a few schools of engineering, to finally involve all schools of engineering under the public sector by January 16, 2015.

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Media Coverage of the Events

The strikes and protests held by the students of engineering have nailed a fine- but not big enough- coverage by the Tunisian media. No student strikes of this importance had been held since a long time ago, especially with the fact that these strikes are not dominated by any party or union. It is a spontaneous movement that happened to unite all Tunisian engineering students of the public sector.

In an article by Assabah, entitled “Students of Engineering.. The Art of Protesting”, the journalist talked about the creativity of these students when addressing and protesting against the measures undertaken by the Ministry of Higher Education.

CapFM interviewed one of the protesting students from IPEIN, Samer Belguessem, who expressed the students’ insistence on keeping the strikes and manifestations going till the ministry responds to their demands.

SarahaFM held a whole episode where the issue was tackled from different angles and by different stakeholders.

Another Arabic-speaking newspaper tried to tackle these events from the point of view of the National Chamber of the Higher Education of the Private Sector who stated that “these manifestations will do harm to the private sector”.

Till this day and due to the indifference of the minister, the protests are still taking place at the public schools of engineering, on the streets and in front of the Ministry of Higher Education.


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