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Private bac lessons burden Tunisian parents

By Mona Yahya for Magharebia from Tunis -- 22/04/09

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With only a few weeks to go before the baccalaureate exams, Tunisia is swept up by bac fever. Tunisian students are racing to review all their course materials. And to do that with the least stress and greatest effectiveness, many students opt to hire private tutors.

High exam grades are needed to secure a place at a good university and, eventually, to get a decent job, students say. The class lectures alone may not be enough to prepare for the difficult exams, young Tunisians and their parents agree.

Originally, private lessons were designed to help weak students catch up on the material. The ministry of education put rules and restrictions on private lessons; the teachers are allowed to tutor a maximum of 12 students, they cannot teach their own students and they should be licensed.

But with the fierce competition - more than 138,000 students will take the exams this year - most of the students are encouraged by their families to seek tutoring sessions.

"For the Tunisian family", said Zahra Murad, "passing the baccalaureate exam is very important for the kids’ future. Competition is tough in the labour market and unemployment is on the rise. Unless one is brilliant, they have no chance in getting a good job."

Private lessons pose a burden to families, however, especially those with limited incomes. The cost can be anywhere between 30 and 90 dinars per lesson. To cap that, some teachers practice pressure on students and their parents to direct them into private lessons, students and parents said.

Nora, a Bac student, complained that one of her teachers was not doing his best to explain the syllabus in the classroom. She had to join one of the teacher's private lessons at his house to be able to understand.

"When we are in his house, where he has designated a small room for private lessons, he does his absolute best to make sure we understand," she said.

The system is beneficial to the instructors as well. Teachers need the additional income to supplement their low wages.

In Le Bardo, Tunis, one physics teacher turned a storage room in his house into a classroom. Noureddine is one of the students in that class.

"We are a group made up of 10 students, in the seventh year in secondary school," Noureddine explained. "We take one lesson in physics a week for 60 dinars. We have no choice but to take lessons to improve our performance in this tough subject."

"Some parents insist that teachers give private lessons," said Khaled Kanoun, an English language teacher. "Some are ready to sign up their children for private lessons in nearly all subjects for more than 300 dinars a month."

Minister of Education Hatim Ben Salim acknowledged the problem at a recent press conference. However, he said, it is not all the ministry's responsibility.

"Parents have a role to play and a responsibility to shoulder," the minister said.

What do you think of this article?


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  1. Anonymous thumb

    hassan kouali 2010-3-7

    My comment is the following: I hope that this site has prepared everything necessary for the brilliant students. Thank you!


  2. Anonymous thumb

    aziza 2009-9-26

    hello evry body really i like so much to learn english so plz help me


  3. Anonymous thumb

    علياء 2009-5-24

    Salam alikum. I study in the bac, arts. Teacher plunder without explanation or understanding any problematic. Five hours are worth 50 dinars. We just write headlines. Revision is over and we will still face this problem. The only solution is to rely on God not on teachers because they are of no good in the exams.


  4. Anonymous thumb

    BEN 2009-5-7

    I completely agree. However, it is regrettable that the Palestinians were unable to listen to Bourgiba during his time, and Hassan II as well. I also think that the young Israelis are tired of war, which explains them taking to leaving and going to live under different skies. At a time when they need to unite, the Palestinians are tearing themselves apart to the detriment of their future. We see things as they are, and whatever they may be, Tunisia remains the most beautiful country in the world.


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    Farid 2009-5-6

    In response to “Ben” and “Anonymous”- Ben, Tunisia is not Switzerland. Take a trip to the Algerian border and watch your compatriots traffic fuel coming from Algeria and even Libya. This is to say that you are living on the backs of two countries. These countries do not need a Maghreb Union. You speak of negative influence when your compatriots live in splendour thanks to these countries – that is what is immoral! This website was created for the people of the Maghreb to, it seems, offer objective opinions and criticism. So, Ben Ali has been president for 22 years and is going to win another term in office. If you do the math, that makes nearly 30 years. What is up with that? You call that “negative influence”? In Europe, they call that dictatorship! However, I know that on the other side of the sea this has a different meaning. Anonymous, it is fine and all knocking Morocco on the Internet, but then go consult the figures on the economy, which got $10 billion from drug production. Long live technology! Do not bother trying to fool people by talking about Israel in order to target another country.


  6. Anonymous thumb

    Anonymous 2009-5-6

    To the English translator. You were certainly working too fast because of a deadline. But you made two very serious mistakes in your translation. You translated "they are not fired at' by 'the police do rain down bullets on them'. You also translated 'the Israelis would find that rather insulting' by 'the Israelis rather do not feel insulted'. These are real serious mistakes which don't even fit with the logic of the translated piece. Sorry, but I have to say that.


  7. Anonymous thumb

    tunisia 2009-5-5

    we can't make from a fact a general conclusion .the educional system of tunisia is one of the most successful method in the arabic world.that's why we can't ignore this success .as for Anonymous you can't judge unless you see the level of the tunisian students around the world especially in the middle east.


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    Anonymous 2009-5-5

    I criticise Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. Those who live in the interior and have an Israeli passport are considered second-class citizens; those who live in Gaza and Transjordan are considered cannon fodder against whom war crimes are permitted. On the other hand, both rich and poor Jewish Israeli citizens enjoy all of their civil rights. They are not subjected to arbitrary arrests and are not at risk of being tortured. They are free to have political opinions even when the latter denies the existence of Israel. They protest without fear against attacks on the Palestinians’ human rights - the police do rain down bullets on them, the army is not put in a state of alert and they are not arrested. As for the Israeli press, it is free, not subjected to censorship. It does not lick boots of the head of state or the government, neither of which are above the law. When they break the law, no one can protect them from the punitions of the independent courts. More recently, their president was forced to resign, and he is still under prosecution. There is, of course, corruption in Israel, but it is not the rule of the day; it is a crime. The elections are not rigged, and Israel’s young people are not risking their lives at sea to illegally go to Saudi Arabia or another oil state to earn a living. There is also no cult of personality in Israel: Giant posters of leaders are not hung on every street corner or in public places like cafes because they do not have dictators. The elections are not rigged. This is why, I think, that the Israelis rather do not feel insulted by the comparison I read above.


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    BEN 2009-4-26

    Your analysis is too severe, Anonymous! Tunisia can more and more be compared to Israel in terms of the performance of its economic model. But in Tunisia’s case, this has not been followed by advances in its international politics, public liberties and democracy. As with Israel, its geographic situation explains this: it is affected by the harmful influences of its neighbours, who, made rich by their underground wealth, have no other preoccupation by destabilising their neighbour. This explains the vigilance and fortitude of the central government. Tunisia and Morocco are, above all else, on the same wavelength. They are Maghreb locomotives, which sometimes roll over Libyan and Algerian bumps.


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    Anonymous 2009-4-23

    This is a sad, sad story. A country plunged into corruption. A new generation educated by corrupt educators. Parents who instead of revolting pay the price and teach their children to accept unjustice because it is like this and not another way. Later those kids will transmit this vicious mentality to their children, and the beat goes on and on and on. The end of civilisation.


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    soso 2009-4-23

    This is the first time I visit the site. I liked you but you must tackle many issues and extend more the site. I wish you success. Good luck.


  12. Anonymous thumb

    Anonymous 2009-4-23

    The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was engulfed by lava vomited forth from a volcano. In Tunisia, the lava of corruption continues to flow from the summit of our pyramid and flow down to the base, ruining everything in its path. Up until now, only the morals and the pride of a people, which should have been sovereign, have been destroyed. It is not inappropriate to ask how our young people, who were educated under corruption and dishonesty, will behave. This is promising for our future generations.


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