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Tunisia Education Facts


Large state investments have been made in the school system. Today, only about 3 percent of young Tunisians are illiterate, while the proportion of residents who have an academic education has quadrupled since 1990, from just over 3 to 12 percent. Older women in many cases still lack reading and writing skills, but among the young there is almost no difference.

Schooling is compulsory and in principle free of charge until the age of 16. Despite governmental efforts in the school system, there is a shortage of teachers, while the school premises are of low standards.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Tunisia, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

Virtually all children begin elementary school, which consists of a six-year elementary school, including preschool, and a three-year secondary school. A four-year voluntary high school qualifies students for study at any of the country’s dozens of state or twenty private universities or technical colleges. One third of all young people continue to study at university level. By mid-2010, about two-thirds of the students were women.

But the many thousands who finish their academic studies each year find it difficult to find a qualified job that corresponds to their competence. Nearly a third of those with an academic education were unemployed by the mid-2010s.

State schools dominate, but there are also private educational institutions and Quran schools. Teaching in elementary school and increasingly in higher education takes place in Arabic. French also exists, but mainly at the university level. After the 2011 revolution, Islamic schools, which have long been banned, have been added, but the state school system has at the same time been given new guidelines in recent years. Among other things, human rights have been set up as an element of teaching.

At the end of 2019, it was announced that sexual literacy education (called sexual health) should be introduced in elementary school. One purpose is to prevent harassment. A notable case in a village outside Sfax, where a teacher exposed children to abuse, is considered to have contributed to the need for attention. However, some topics, such as discussing sexual orientation, such as homosexuality, are believed to remain sensitive.

  • Educationvv: Provides school and education information in Tunisia, covering middle school, high school and college education.


Proportion of children starting primary school

98.6 percent (2013)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

16 (2016)

Reading and writing skills

79.0 percent (2014)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

22.9 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

22.9 percent (2015)



Second round of presidential elections

The official result shows that Essebsi won with the support of 55.7 percent of voters, against 44.3 for Marzouki. Essebsi taking office on New Year’s Eve will be Tunisia’s first democratically elected president. He promises by his accession to work for national reconciliation.

Militant Islamists behead police

The deed that is taking place near the border with Algeria is another reminder of the difficult security situation in the country.


Terrorist attack in northern Tunisia

Five soldiers die and ten are injured in what is described as a terrorist attack on a bus carrying military and relatives near Nebeur in northwestern Tunisia. Marzouki announces a day’s grief after the attack.

First round of presidential elections

November 23

Among the 27 candidates in the presidential election are Nida Tune’s leader Béji Caïd Essebsi, interim president Marzouki who is the CPR candidate, President Mustapha Ben Jafar who is Ettakatol’s candidate and al-Hashemi al-Hamedi who is running for al-Mahaba. Two former ministers from Ben Ali’s regime: Kamel Morjane and Mondher Zenaidi, are also in the starting field. Ennahda does not stand with any presidential candidate. Essebsi gets 39 percent of the vote compared to 33 percent for Marzouki. There will thus be a second round of elections between them on December 21st.


The parliamentary elections are held

The October 26 elections run without any more serious incidents. The turnout is 66 percent. According to preliminary results, the liberal Nida Tounes will be the biggest, while Ennahda will be placed second. (see further Political system). The other two parties in the previous coalition, CPR and Ettakatol, are also losing support. The lack of economic and social reforms is believed to be the reason voters turn their backs on them, despite the fact that they root ashore the important task of getting a new constitution in place. Other portions described as predominantly secularbut more right-wing than CPR and Ettakatol are on the other hand. (For distribution of seats, see fact box in the right column.) UN chief Ban Ki-Moon and several Western governments commend Tunisia for the election, which is called an important step on the path to a functioning democracy.


Problems at the border with Libya

The pressure is increasing at the border crossings from Libya, due to the deteriorating security situation there.


New attack in the mountains

At least 14 soldiers are killed and over 20 injured in the Chambi mountain area near the border with Algeria, in what is described as the most serious attack on the armed forces since independence in 1956. After the attack, three days of country grief is announced and Prime Minister Jomaa says a crisis group will be appointed to coordinate the government’s strategy against the Islamists. More than 30 suspected Islamists are arrested following the attack.


Attempt terrorist acts

The al-Qaeda group Aqim takes on an attempted attack on the interior minister in May. This is the first time that Aqim has confirmed its presence in the country.


New electoral law is adopted

An important step towards fully functioning democracy is taken when the transition parliament adopts a new electoral law.


The president lowers his salary

Marzouki announces that he is reducing his salary by two-thirds, due to the economic crisis in the country. According to a spokesman, the monthly salary is approximately SEK 125,000.

Support from the World Bank

Tunisia will receive $ 1.2 billion during the year from the World Bank. The new constitution and the appointment of the transitional government are raising high hopes for Tunisia is on the right track. The money will, among other things, go to promote growth and job creation, strengthen local government, increase access to credit for small and medium-sized companies, and facilitate the export sector.


Governors are replaced

Prime Minister Jomaa replaces 18 of the country’s 24 governors and dismisses 17 government advisers. The opposition demands that even more appointments made by the Ennahda government be reviewed. Ennahda is accused of having appointed loyal followers to thousands of posts, in order to gain an upper hand for upcoming elections.


Visit by US Secretary of State

John Kerry and President Marzouki talk about economic exchange and cooperation against terrorism.

Wanted Islamist is killed

A main suspect for the assassinations of opposition politicians Belaid and al-Brahmi (see February and July 2013) is killed by security forces.


A new constitution is adopted

The Constituent Assembly votes in favor of the proposal with 200 votes out of 216 possible. Mehdi Jomaa says he has formed a transitional government.

Change of Prime Minister post

Prime Minister Larayedh resigns as scheduled and hands over to Mehdi Jomaa. According to the UGTT, the transfer of power could take place after an independent election authority was formed, a condition of Ennahda.

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