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Examining Child Poverty in TunisiaLocated in the northern region of Africa, Tunisia is home to some of the most beautiful places in Africa. There are picturesque coastlines and crystal-clear waters that are visited by people around the world. Although home to such beautiful sceneries, Tunisia has a history of child poverty in its regions. Tunisia, like many developing countries worldwide, has room for improvement in regard to child poverty, especially as children aged 0 to 14 make up 23% of Tunisia’s population.

Tunisia’s Economic Background

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Tunisia has strong growth potential. Just in the past few decades, Tunisia’s social and economic status has improved significantly. The average annual GDP grew by 5% and poverty went down from 60% in 1960 to 4.2% in 2000.

Tunisia has also introduced some budget reforms to improve its economic development. Tourism is a particular focus in the development of Tunisia’s economy. Thousands of people visit Tunisia every year and contribute to the country’s economy. With youth unemployment rates in Tunisia at a high, Tunisia’s government seeks to mitigate economic challenges.

Improving Childhood Education in Tunisia

An economy can impact a country’s education system in several ways. An often useful productive development strategy is to improve schooling levels within a nation. Whether it’s a lack of resources or funding from the government, it’s a focus of countries around the world.

Despite the economic status that Tunisia is currently in, the country does have the potential to recover, as we mentioned earlier. This economic relief would advance childhood education in Tunisia.

Since 1956, Tunisia has been focused on developing a good education system. Education is an important focus for the Tunisian government. About 20% of the government’s budget is allocated to its education system. In early 2018, the Tunisian Ministry of Women and Children partnered with Fun Academy to help develop high-quality education for Tunisian children. This is one of the strategies the Tunisian government is taking to improve the education system.

How Education Impacts the Economy

Educating young children so they can enter high school and college can positively impact a country’s economy. In fact, there are several ways the economy can be impacted by a lack of a proper education system. One of the ways we typically think of is by not having enough people in the professional field. It’s important for Tunisians seeking education to gain the skills to work in the professional field.

This includes early childhood education which will subsequently lead to a better economy. According to an article by Investopedia, education and training are important factors when improving a nation’s economic development. Additionally, employers in Tunisia can face training program increases as well as productivity in the professional field.

Tunisia’s education system is similar to many countries around the world. Tunisia currently spends about 20% to 30% of its national budget on education. In 1998, about 1.5 million kids were enrolled in primary school. At the time, there were about 4,349 primary schools open in Tunisia. These schools were taught by approximately 59,430 teachers and averaged at about 24.6 students per classroom. By the late 1990s, most kids were getting through primary school. Tunisia continues to build its focus on education and development projects.

Child Poverty in Tunisia

In many nations, children living in different parts of a country can have different amounts of education. Tunisia currently has a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to improve human development and its main focus is to reduce poverty and hunger, improve universal primary education across Tunisia, advance child and maternal healthcare and establish environmental stability. While working on improving these aspects of the nation, the government also focuses on child poverty reduction in Tunisia.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, Tunisia may be able to reach its goals and highlights positive progress and new opportunities. Additionally, the National Solidarity Fund is trying to develop funds for vulnerable citizens in Tunisia. Tunisia is working on development programs to improve education and poverty reduction efforts across the country.

These development programs are anticipated to help local economies and build better infrastructure in the country. As previously mentioned, Tunisia has the potential to become an economically developed nation with good childhood education and resources for citizens in the country. By tackling child poverty in Tunisia, the country can improve its education system and alleviate national poverty.

– Amina Aden
Photo: Flickr

US Investments Strengthening Education in Tunisia
The United States has invested $100 million in strengthening education in Tunisia, Africa. The project, known as Strengthening Foundations for Learning, is designed to support the government in addressing major challenges in primary education.

What Will the Project Do?

The main goal is to direct resources toward key areas for a transformative impact on student learning. The project will focus on expanding access to quality early childhood education, strengthening literacy and numeracy in the early grades, improving teacher skills and improving school management, accountability and student assessment.

Investment in high-quality early childhood education is one of the most cost-efficient investments in human capital. These investments have been linked to significant improvement in primary education grade promotion, reduction in repetition and dropout rates.

“By investing in education, Tunisia is investing in the future,” says Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb. “Quality basic education is a way of giving children the opportunity to become active participants in the transformation of the societies in which they live, and to contribute to future growth and prosperity.”

Who Will the Project Benefit?

The Strengthening Foundations for Learning Project will improve learning conditions in public preschools and primary schools. Increasing access to public preschool education in selected districts will be a main focus as well as strengthening management practices in education. The project aims to empower school leaders and instructional staff to work collaboratively to raise student achievement by strengthening education in Tunisia.

The direct project beneficiaries include an estimated 1,144,000 students attending public preschools and primary schools. Another 64,000 primary school teachers will benefit from improved opportunities for professional development. Furthermore, 5,360 primary school directors and deputy directors, 615 pedagogical inspectors and 850 pedagogical counselors will benefit from this project.

Tunisia has successfully addressed issues of access to schooling, having achieved universal primary education and gender parity more than two decades ago, but the quality of education has suffered and students need to be supported in developing strong foundational skills,” says Michael Drabble, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and co-Task Team Leader.

What Does Strengthening Education in Tunisia Mean?

There are four core components attached to this project investment for strengthening education in Tunisia:

  1. Improving quality and increasing supply of public preschool education at an estimated total cost of $19.6 million.
  2. Improving learning conditions in public primary schools at an estimated total cost of $46.6 million.
  3. Strengthening management practices in the education sector at an estimated total cost of $32.5 million.
  4. Project Management Support at an estimated total cost of $1.3 million.

“Teachers need access to relevant and well-designed professional development programs to help them adapt new instructional methods to boost learning in the classroom. Well-prepared and committed school leaders are needed to turn around poor performing schools,” says Samira Halabi, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and co-Task Team Leader of the project.

This type of investment will provide unprecedented strengthening of education in Tunisia benefiting thousands of primary education students. Tunisia has a total of 2,199,000 students enrolled in primary and secondary education. Of these students, about 1,047,000, or 48 percent, are enrolled in primary education.

In Tunisia, the primary net enrollment rate is 99 percent and the primary completion rate is 102 percent. Both of these indicators provide a sense of the progress the country is making toward universal primary education.

The United States investment in Strengthening Foundations for Learning is a generous one with only beneficial outcomes. Continuously strengthening education in Tunisia is only going to provide better education and more access so that the country can grow and improve.

– Richard Zarrilli
Photo: Flickr

Education in Tunisia
Commissioner Johannes Hahn of the European Union recently announced a 213.5-million-euro aid package for Tunisia aimed to support the newly established democracy and tackle some key socio-economic projects within the country.

Tunisia was the first country to have a regime change after the Arab Spring. Their democracy was established in 2011 and promptly after they drafted a constitution aimed at providing a more reliable and just form of government for years to come.

Their new constitution and government have been successful thus far but they have run into some economic woes. Ongoing instability in neighboring Libya and terrorist attacks in their own country have equated to a decline in their tourism industry which is vital to their economy.

The EU has been alongside the new Tunisian government since the establishment of the new democracy. From 2011 to 2016, the EU has provided 2 billion euros to assist with the government’s transition and plug any budgetary deficits that arose.

Much progress has been made but there is much more to do according to a recent EU Commission report. “Decisive action is needed to sustain the democratic transition as social discontent, especially among young people, continues to grow.”

The new aid package will support social infrastructure projects focused on education, healthcare, access to clean water and sanitation. Education in Tunisia stands to improve with this increased focus. The funds will be distributed to urban and rural schools that are most deprived of resources.

There will also be vocational job training that will be included in the school curriculum that is paired with local labor market needs. They will be trying a different method of schooling in which education in Tunisia becomes a vehicle for more effective job placement.

Since 2011, Tunisians have been participating in an EU program called Erasmas+ in which teachers and students have an opportunity to receive schooling and vocational training with participating organizations within the EU. The 2016 aid package will expand the eligible number of teachers and students in this program by 1500, adding further strength to education in Tunisia.

By providing stability for the government and increasing funding in education, the EU hopes to reduce the volatility in the Tunisian economy. Currently, 60 percent of Tunisian trade is with the EU and 70 percent of foreign investment is from EU countries. The EU commissioner believes that by adding stability to the Tunisian economy all parties involved will be positively affected.

According to the EU Commissioner, the long-term goal for Tunisia and the EU is to improve its national security. To date, Tunisia has sent more foreign fighters to ISIS than any other country in Europe or the Middle East. Also, with Libya on its southeast border, there are concerns that instability might spread to within their country. With this aid package, the EU hopes to make Tunisia less susceptible to national security risks that are common in the region.

Brian Faust

Photo: Flickr