Tunisia’s education system has its roots in the French system. Basic education involves six years of primary education, after which students must take an exam to proceed to three years of preparatory education. At the end of the three years, a nationwide exam leading to the Diplôme de Fin d’Etudes de l’Enseignement de Base determines which students will be allowed to proceed to secondary education. Those students enrolled in secondary education – 466,939 students during the academic year 2010-2011 – specialize, after a year of general studies, in economics, management, sciences, or languages. After four years, they take the nationwide Baccalauréat examination. More girls than boys are enrolled in both primary and secondary education.
Due in part to an increasingly young population and in part to a better education system, more than three times as many students have enrolled in Tunisia’s higher-education system over the past decade. During the academic year 2010-2011, Tunisia’s National Institute for Statistics counted 85,705 new first-year university enrolments. Tunisia has thirteen universities and almost 200 other higher-education institutes. During the academic year 2010-2011, almost 62 percent of enrolled students were female. During the academic year 2009-2010, 32,317 men and 53,718 women graduated. The greatest number of students graduate from computer and telecommunication sciences, followed by arts and human sciences.
Although Tunisia has a high rate of university enrolment, the country struggles to integrate its young graduates into the labour market. Indeed, unemployment amongst educated youth is high, revealing a mismatch between educational standards and the demands of the labour market. As the number of graduates continues to increase, the government must find a way to integrate educated youth into the labour market in order to counter mounting economic frustration and political disillusionment.
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