Tunisia has invested heavily in education since independence. Around 18% of the state budget (2015) flows into the education sector, of which around a third goes into the higher education sector. Measurable successes are the continuously increasing literacy rate and the high number of high school graduates and academics. However, the illiteracy rate is particularly higher in rural areas. The school enrollment rate is around 99%, but by no means all schoolchildren complete school. Early school leaving and child labor are particularly problematic in rural areas.
The high number of schoolchildren and students contrasts with a declining quality of education, according to critics. In addition to insufficient preparation for independent work, poor language skills are particularly criticized. Many Tunisians are unable to communicate correctly in Standard Arabic or French even after completing their studies. The Tunisian dialect is spoken in everyday life and is often mixed with French, especially in the educated classes. According to a survey from 2015, young Tunisians feel far more threatened by unemployment than by terrorism in their future. The feeling of lack of perspective also leads to increasing drug consumption, which often begins at school age.
School, vocational training
According to internetsailors, the Tunisian school system is structured according to the French model. School attendance is compulsory from 6 to 16 years of age. Women in particular are still illiterate. After six years of elementary school, three years of college follow. In order to be admitted to study or training, this is followed by 4 years of Lycée, with the first year following a general curriculum before the students have to choose one of six possible areas of focus (business, computer science, languages, mathematics, sport, natural science) leads to high school graduation. The language of instruction is Arabic, and French and English are taught from the third year of primary school.
Responsible for vocational training is the Ministry of Labor (and in special areas the respective responsible ministry, e.g. for tourism or agriculture). In two-year courses, high school graduates can learn technical professions at vocational schools. There is also the possibility of taking up an apprenticeship consisting of two two-year modules without the Abitur (after two years of Lycée).
In addition to the state education system, there are a large number of private schools, especially in the cities, both in the primary and secondary school systems. The French schools in particular enjoy a high reputation.
There are 13 state universities in Tunisia. The course is free of charge, the languages of instruction are Arabic and French. The Abitur guarantees the right to a study place, but these are assigned centrally so that not every student can study the desired subject or at the desired university. In general, it is easier to get a place in the humanities subjects instead of technical or economic courses and at a university outside of Tunis than in the capital.
Private universities and partnerships with foreign educational institutions only account for around 1%, which is mainly due to bureaucratic hurdles. In addition, the Tunisian state grants scholarships only to students at public universities.
For many West African students, Tunisia is a popular place to study, because the education is considered better than in their home countries, but the cost of living is lower than in Europe and it is much easier to get a residence permit.
In Tunisia you can still find so-called taxi phones, offices with public payphones. You can usually also send and receive faxes and make photocopies there. However, the mobile communications market has become very dynamic in recent years, so that these, like internet cafés, are slowly disappearing. More than 90% of all Tunisians have a mobile phone. Fixed line is rarely used. All three mobile operators, Tunisie Telecom, Ooredoo (formerly Tunisiana, is often still called that) and Orange, offer SIM cards for 5DT, this is worthwhile for a few calls during a short stay. The cards, for which you must present a copy of your passport, can be obtained, for example, in the arrivals hall of Tunis and Djerba airports or in one of the countless telephone shops. Network coverage is usually good.
Internet censorship has been lifted since the revolution. The connection is usually good in the cities, but sometimes slow in the countryside. In addition to public Internet cafés, the so-called publinets, which can be recognized by a purple @ symbol, all three mobile phone providers offer UMTS sticks and data tariffs for smartphones. Depending on the region, these are 3G or 4G connections. In many cafes, especially in the cities, as well as in most hotels, there is free Wi-Fi for guests.
Facebook is used by large parts of the population in Tunisia and is sometimes seen as synonymous with the Internet. The network also plays an important role in formal communication and often replaces emails or official websites. In addition to Facebook Messenger, Viber is used a lot, including WhatsApp.