Perspectives on Engineering Education Quality in Tunisia After 50 Years of Statehood
Background and Purpose
More than 50 years after independence, engineering education (EE) in Tunisia continues to evolve. In the past 20 years, the structure of the engineering diploma has changed drastically. This chapter investigates recent developments and stakeholder perspectives on the changes that have been made to the 5-year engineering degree. The education of Tunisian engineers is a strict and specific path, replete with exams and nationally standardized requirements. The system retains many characteristics of its French heritage, but it is struggling to adapt itself to Tunisia’s changing demographics and socioeconomic needs.
The empirical section of this chapter analyzes more than 20 in-depth interviews with diverse participants in the Tunisian EE system. Participants come from numerous sectors, all with interests in educating high-quality engineers: professors, public- and private-sector employers, ministry officials, school administrators, and students in various types of postsecondary institutions and in various subdisciplines of engineering. The chapter supplements interview information with a qualitative historical overview of the EE system in Tunisia.
Respondent perspectives reflect the diversity of their experiences with the Tunisian education system. However sufficient this system might be, all respondents recognized that, given the chance, students would choose to study outside of the country. Most interviewees acknowledged that students lacked the kind of practical experience they should have to enter the engineering labor force.
Since independence, higher education has been a priority for Tunisian policy-makers. Twenty years ago, the Ministry of Higher Education addressed some of the major problems in the structure of tertiary EE with a sweeping curricular change. Those revisions are still in place today, though Tunisia’s demographics and economic needs have evolved, and the demands of the profession necessitate further reevaluation and adaptation. Tunisia’s EE system is facing numerous internal and external challenges in order to remain competitive.
KeywordsEngineering education Curriculum reform Tunisia Interview methods
The author would like to acknowledge the thoughtful feedback from anonymous reviewers in the preparation of this chapter. Data collection was facilitated by gracious hosts of the authortion shaped thace at the office of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations in Tunis. Finally, this chapter would not have been possible without the kind investment of time and openness provided by the interview respondents who shared their general perceptions and personal experiences.
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