REPORT – Conference-R.E.F.O.R.S « A System of development or education? »

Conference-R.E.F.O.R.S
« A System of development or education? »
A seminar entitled « A System of development or education? » was held at Africa Hotel on the 6th and 7th of September 2016 with the cooperation of Education, Vocational Training and Scientific Research Network (R.E.F.O.R.S) in order to probe the relation between Development and Education. In this context, experts in both fields as well as representatives of political parties and civil society were invited from Tunisia and abroad.
First Day:
The seminar was opened with interventions from representatives from the parties that participated in the organization of the event. The first intervention, by Mrs Wided Ben Aïssa, the official spokesperson of R.E.F.O.R.S, was meant to frame the general session as she indicated that this international seminar is the first of its kind held by the network. This seminar aims at laying down the problematic of development, education and the priority of this phase. She considered as well that it is necessary to view other similar experiences in order to benefit from them and study their positive sides.
Professor Hatem Jlassi, president of the network, has indicated from his side that there is a strong relation between educational and development issues. In the same vein, he stressed that efforts continues within the network in order to present a clear vision about the reform of the  education sector and about the number of proposals handed to the parliament, among which the need to concentrate on an independent supreme Court, that is still to be determined.
Mrs Emna Ennaifer, program director at CSID, indicated that this seminar falls within the activities of the center that covers the Educational portfolio which the center persevered in organizing. She equally emphasized the relentless endeavors to find a common ground between what the Ministry of Education has proposed and what the civil society institutions has proposed in order to come out with a comprehensive vision of educational reform.
Dr. Hamadi Bargueoui, president of the Scientific Commission that organized the seminar, indicated that, given the multiplicity of the proposals issued and considering the importance of the topic, huge efforts have been made to hold this seminar. This is because the issue combines the educational side relating to the educative system and the development side relating to the production system. He affirmed that this combination is intentional as there is a strong relationship between Education and Development.
Dr. Ridha Sassi, expert in education matters, presided the first scientific session and started with an intervention by Dr. Mohamed Nouri, Professor of Economics and an Islamic Finance expert. He initiated his key note by stressing the question of development and how it relates to the issue of renaissance in a manner that framed the problematic as follows: why do nations fail to achieve development while others succeed? On the answer to this question, he stressed that studies have indicated that achieving development is linked to investment in humans via moral and educational growth and the necessity of integrating the cultural dimension in the development scheme. He also underlined the relation between the moral and educational system as well as the development system. For when science progresses knowledge follows, as well as industry in a manner that achieves human urbanism. Whenever a society thrives, science and urbanism prosper too. He indicated, after providing prototypes of market economy and their corresponding features, that economies based on liberalism failed in many countries. However, many successful experiences that applied social economies stand out.
Afterwards, he presented examples of countries that were successful in achieving development and attributed their success to their continuous endeavors to invest in their human resources and reliance on their own resources. In his closing remarks, Dr. Nouri presented the characteristics of the development scheme in Tunisia and stressed how it reflects the frailty in growth and production, absence of adaptability between training and the job market and a chronic reliance on the outside. This is due to the volatility of choices and the mismatch between development scheme and the specificities of the Tunisian reality, the spread of corruption and the expansion of the informal economy.  He put emphasis on the fact that it is necessary to look for a new development scheme that can open new horizons in the country and cuts with these corrupt policies.
The second seminar was presented by Dr. Gilano Maachou from the University of Oran. Dr Maachou stressed that the reality of education in Algeria is unstable giving the shaky social situation. He equally indicated that reforms started since the independence when the use of Arabic was being spread on to all schools in addition to the programs that befit the economic and social developments. This orientation was scientific and technologically driven and led to positive results. Nevertheless, these results did not reflect positively on the development system. According to him, it is necessary to rectify the educational system today in accordance with the Algerian reality in a manner that cuts with the politics of closed educational system.
The third intervention was led by Mr. Taoufik Soltan Al-Hakimi from Singapore, who emphasized that the educational system is the basis of the development scheme and referred in this regard to Singapore in education and sustainable development. He presented the characteristics of his country and the different phases it went through. From this perspective, he focused on the educational policies that were relied upon and underlined that they were based on the ability to accommodate, the non-governmental education and on technology and scientific competition. He furthermore pointed out that Singapore has initiated the inclusion of students and pupils in designing curriculums, an element that had a strong impact on the growth of the educational field and on the development level of his country.
The last intervention of this session was that of Dr. Marwa Mejri who reiterated that the Tunisian educational program is going through an acute crisis that requires in-depth research. She attributed this issue to learning difficulties relating to the language of instruction and absence of the desire to learn as well as to the absence of pedagogic and psychological training, all of which created a negative relationship between teachers and pupils, in addition to the backwardness of the national educational programs. She also took this opportunity to enumerate the characteristics of the Tunisian State and indicated that the programs set are disconnected from the Tunisian reality. For these reasons, she considers them as programs without identity and do not line up with the reality of the country. Then she clarified that all these problems contributed in the high unemployment crisis for holders of high degrees. In the end, she stressed the necessity of setting new standards in recruiting teachers and the need to create educational programs in line with the Tunisian identity. In a similar vein, she put th emphasis the necessity to coordinate between university orientation and job market as well as renewing suitable educational methods.
During the first round of discussion, speakers reaffirmed the importance of the topic in question and indicated that the interventions were the reflection othe a deep crisis the educational system is witnessing in Tunisia, and which in turn was reflected on the development system. They attributed this to the lack of a clear strategic policy of the consecutive governments since the Independence and even after the Revolution, and considered that it is not possible to achieve any success or progress without reviewing the existing educative and educational policies.


Prof. Massoud Al-Filali initiated the second seminar which started with the intervention of Mr. Omar Dhaouadi, a consultant in business affairs and graduate from the German University. In his initial remarks, he presented the German vision regarding educational issues and the basis upon which rests educational programs. He indicated that Germany relies on a sole ministry that covers the education question and pointed out that there is justice in the distribution of opportunities between citizens given that Germany relies on its youth.
According to Mr. Dhaouaadi, there are huge infractions in Tunisia’s education because of ignorance and dereliction since the early age and within the family. The professor presented statistics that reflect the progress of the education reforms in Germany during consecutive periods where it has improved significantly to the point it outclassed other developed states. He considered that knowledge is not only shaped within the state institutions but as well in the non-governmental institutions such as family and society. He concluded his remarks by saying that education in Germany relies on the creation and concentration of the knowledge economy.
The second intervention by Mr. Youssef Marweni, a general education inspector and professor of education psychology, was centred on the concept of educational listening. In this context, he indicated that social researches are today focused on the personality of the child and he placed the emphasis on the necessity of accompanying him and triggering his inner potentials. The modern pedagogy, as explained by professor Marweni, works today on setting a program to each pupil in commensuration to his capacities and personal potentials.
The third intervention was presented by Mr. Mohamed Ben Rached, Doctor and expert in sociology and pedagogic programs. He initiated his key note by stressing that developing the psychological and social competencies have an important role in building citizens and developing the society. More importantly, he argued that it proves the ability of the individual to personal education and enhances his cultural spirit and sense of citizenship. He reiterated that the Tunisian school lives a confidence crisis wherein the Tunisian citizen no longer trusts the Tunisian government because of the absence of a clear educational policy that befits the national policy. He attributed this to the rational of dependence. He also indicated that the existing loopholes require in-depth treatment but there still is haziness in specifying the proposed challenges, due to their complexity. In the end, Mr. Ben Rached specified that it is necessary not to deal with the question of education from a profit oriented perspective.
During the discussion of the second seminar, the representatives indicated that Tunisia does not possess a development system-in addition to the absence of an education scheme-and expressed their disappointment from the poor infrastructure of the education institutions and the limited capacities provided to the pupils. They also stated that the main problem is the absence of an education system besides a clear regression in teachers’ level due to the lack of rehabilitation and training. The speakers referred to other comparative experiences in order to expose the deep difference between Tunisian and other states, by advocating the need for finding a quick and effective solution as to save the next generations.
Second day:
The international conference entitled « A System of Development or Education? » was resumed in the second day with a third seminar presided by Prof. Fathi Saaï with an intervention by Dr. Hasib Kasrawi who initiated it by presenting a group of laws and amendments that covered the orientation system in Tunisia. In his analysis, Dr Kasrawi indicated that these clauses do not reflect in a deep fashion the focus on the question of development but reflects a clear deterioration in the attention attributed to vocational training, as well as an absence of a strategic conception that links trainings to jobs. In the end, Prof. Kasrawi valued the flexibility of the current orientation system but stressed that it cannot succeed given the multiplicity of the supervising powers on the direction of the education system. In this sense, neutralizing the education institution from any political parties’ interferences is required, so that the reform is scientific and stemming from a real diagnosis of the reality.
Dr. Jamal Chebli, expert in political science, devoted his intervention to the Jordanian experience in higher education and the development and knowledge challenges facing it. He indicated that Jordan worked on training youth. But, given the succession of several ministers, no single education program was implemented. Dr Chebli stressed that talking today about the public and private sector on the education issue is crucial and it is necessary that the public institutions work hardly on improving the quality of its services, in order to attract students and pupils, and regain the trust of both parents and educators.
The third intervention was presented by Dr. Hafedh Madani, expert in sociology, who indicated that development is not a political work-quantity or cumulatively-wise -and it is not an operation of enriching the society, but a decision and a human action. He pointed out that developing the social economy is the answer to leave the economic crisis. In this regard, he proposed a definition of social economy as a mechanism that is based on collective work, cooperation and solidarity and relies on the state’s own resources and rests on the market, the state, society and values. In the end, he concluded that it is necessary to dedicate these concepts in the education programs through educating the next generations about the meaning of sharing, cooperation and self-reliance.
During the debates, speakers have presented a series of questions and clarifications that relate to the concepts that were put forward by the participants, and insisted that Tunisia did not lack potentials but was not benefiting from and investing in them.
The fourth seminar of this conference was presided by doctor Bargueoui and was intiated by Dr. Mouldi Guesmi with an intervention around the question of structural planning and its role in developing the education system. The intervention essentially revolved around emphasizing the importance and legitimacy of structural and administrative planning of the education system, on one hand, and the organic link between education and economic planning, on the other hand. Furthermore, he underlined the issue of the lack of administrative and organizational planning in the existing Tunisian education system. In the end, he provided windows and proposals to develop the Ministry of education structural planning.
The following intervention was led by Mr Hedi Giloufi who presented the positive points of the German model that enhanced the participation of education in the employment and the economic sectors. He then presented a comparison between the German and Moroccan experience in the field of renewable energy and the areas of cooperation between them and regretted the lack of investment in the Tunisian energy and resources.
Zahra Jeer, professor and researcher in social education from Algeria, clarified in her next  intervention that the education reforms lead to a social and economic development. According to her, the growth and strength of regimes in most countries, such as Algeria, is directly linked to their education system.  She emphasized on the fact that education is not the only tool for human development but economic, social and political tools count as well. She carried on by stating that in Arab countries there are no reforms independent of political regimes, adding that separating the educational side from the political one leads to an education reality that focus on training the individual and developing him/her in all fields. Professor Jeer added that the fundamental problem in Arab schools is one of educational, moral and value-like and, therefore, one can not talk about development because ethics are the basis of nations and, vice-versa, educating children on values is the basis of development.
The last intervention was delivered by Dr. Ridha Sassi, academic director of the Tunisian school in Dohaa, who presented the model of the school he presided over and its mechanisms, stressing that it relies on quality, planning and governance as well as producing an educational environment supportive of pupils. Mr. Sassi further underlined that his school frequently organizes a series of meeting with parents in order to understand the situation of the pupils.  He indicated in the end that a pedagogic standard was set to evaluate the school performance that succeeded in presenting an excellent example that can be followed.

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