The République tunisienne (Republic of Tunisia) is located on the northern coast of Africa and is bordered by Algeria, Libya, and the Mediterranean Ocean. It is the northernmost country on the African continent. The population is 10,383,577 and the literacy rate is 74.3%. Arabic is the official language while some Berber dialects are also spoken and French is the language of business.
The earliest known settlers of the area of present-day Tunisia were the Phoenicians in the 10th century BC. In the 9th century BC, the city of Carthage was founded by settlers from present-day Lebanon. In the 2nd century BC, Carthage was conquered by the Romans, followed by the Vandals in the 5th century AD, by Arab Muslims in the 7th century AD who founded the city of Kairouan. In 1230, the Berber Hafsids came to power and brought prosperity to Tunisia. In 1705, the Ottoman Empire took control and the Bey Dynasty was established. The Bey Dynasty borrowed large amounts of money in an effort to modernize Tunisia, but once they began to default on the loans, France began to take control. On May 12, 1881, Tunisia became a French Protectorate. As the result of the Algerian war of independence, France's colonial ambitions were decreased and Tunisia was granted independence on March 20, 1956 and the Bey Dynasty ended.
The Ministry of Education oversees education in Tunisia.
Primary and Secondary Education
Education is free and compulsory from the ages of 6 to 16. École de Base (Premier Cycle) (Primary school) is 6 years beginning at age 6. No educational credential is awarded upon completion. École de Base (Deuxième Cycle) (Lower secondary school) is 3 years and students are awarded a Diplôme de Fin d'Études de l'Enseignement de Base.
Vocational upper secondary school is 2 years and leads to the Certificate d'Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP). Students have the option of continuing on a to 2-year Brevet de Technicien Professionnelle (BTP) program following the CAP.
École secondaire (Academic upper secondary school) is 4 years and, upon completion of studies, students sit for the Baccalauréat examination. Students have the option of entering a 2-year Brevet de Technicien Professionnelle (BTP) program after the 2nd year of upper secondary school if they do not want to continue in an academic upper secondary school program.
Post-secondary education is offered at universities, schools and institutes.
Beginning with the 2006-07, Tunisia adopted a new higher education structure that is similar to the French L-M-D system. Each level of university study will require a set number of Unites d'Enseignement (UE) (Teaching Units) which are similar to credits. Each one-semester class is equal to 6 Unites d'Enseignement (UE).
The first university degrees will be the Licence Recherché and the Licence Professionnelle, depending on the program of study. Each of the licence programs are 3 years and require a Baccalauréat diploma for admission. The first 2 years of a licence program are general studies, and the final year consists of research or professional studies. Licence programs require 180 Unites d'Enseignement (UE).
Following the licence, students have the option of continuing into a 2-year Master Recherché or a Master Professionnel program. Master programs require 120 Unites d'Enseignement (UE) following a licence.
Doctoral studies require at least 3 years of coursework (180 Unites d'Enseignement (UE)) and research following a Master Recherché. After successful defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Doctorat.
In the new higher education structure, engineering and teacher training programs will remain the same.
First Cycle, Academic
First-level university programs are 2 years and students are awarded a Diplôme National de Premier/1ère Cycle d'Études, usually followed by the name of the program of study.
First Cycle, Vocational/Technical
Vocational post-secondary programs are 2-3 years. The Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS) is 2 years and requires a Brevet de Technicien Professionnelle (BTP) or a Baccalauréat for admission. The Diplôme de Technicien Supérieur is 2-3 years long and the Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie is 3 years. Both require a Baccalauréat for admission.
Second-level programs are 2 years and lead to the Maîtrise. Engineering programs are 3 years following a Diplôme National de Premier/1ère Cycle d'Études and lead to the Diplôme National d'Ingénieur.
Graduate programs are 2 years following a Maîtrise and lead to the Mastère Recherché or a Mastère Professionnel, depending on the program of study.
Doctoral studies require at least 3 years of coursework and research following a Mastère Recherché. After successful defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Doctorat.
Pre-school and primary school teachers are trained in 2-year Instituts Supérieurs de Formation des Maîtres (Higher Teacher Training Institutes). These programs require a Baccalauréat for admission. Pre-school teachers are awarded a Diplôme d'Educateur de l'Enfance and primary school teachers are awarded a Diplôme d'Instituteur/d'Institutrice. Secondary school teachers must hold a Maîtrise or a Licence.