The Tunisian education system has long been under both French and Islamic influence. It is 11-year compulsory school for anyone from 6 years. The primary school is divided into 6-year primary school and 3-year secondary school. The language of instruction is mainly Arabic, but French is also used in teaching. The high school is 4 years (2 + 2). There are 107 public higher education institutions, including seven universities. According to UNESCO, approx. 27% (2002) of the adult population are illiterate.
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In the 1970s and 1980s, a considerable Islamist opposition emerged in Tunisia, as in other parts of North Africa. It was first organized in the Mouvement de tendance islamique (MTI), with Rachid Ghannouchi as the lead author. The movement defied a state based on Islam and rejected the secular community Tunisia had become under Bourguiba. During the 1980s, several thousand members were arrested, including after the MTI was accused of planning a takeover of power with support from Iran. The political persecution of the movement was stepped up following terrorist attacks against tourist hotels in Sousse and Monastir in the fall of 1987. In 2002, a synagogue was Djerba bombed.
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At the 1989 election, MTI tried to participate under the name Ennahda, but was not approved. The movement nonetheless asked independent candidates, who achieved around 15 percent support. RCD got all the seats in parliament. Ghannouchi then traveled in exile, returning first to Tunisia in 2011. Through the election, Ennahda assumed the position of leading opposition power.
In 1995 the group Front Islam Islamic Tunisia (FIT) appeared. Later, several Islamist groups have emerged in Tunisia, including Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST). Katibat Uqba ibn Nafi (KUIN) is a breakaway group from al-Qaeda in Maghreb (AQIM); Jund al-Khilafah-Tunisia (JAK-T) is affiliated with the Islamic State (IS). None of these have established a foothold that has made them real threats to the Tunisian state. However, Tunisia has received significant military assistance from the United States to fight Islamists, including in military operations.
The rise of militant Islamism in the Middle East, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, attracted jihadists from a number of countries. The recruitment from Tunisia to these groups, and to their warfare in Iraq and Syria, has been relatively higher than from most other countries. Islamic terror has also hit Tunisia, including an attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in February 2015, and against tourists on the beach in Sousse in June of that year. Fear of new attacks was particularly linked to the security situation in neighboring Libya; The perpetrators of both attacks in 2015 probably received training there. Tunisia announced in July 2015 that a 160-kilometer security wall would be built along the border with Libya as a counter-terrorism measure.
Social problems, poverty and unemployment in the geographically and politically more peripheral part of the country have contributed significantly to radicalization and recruitment to Islamist groups. This is particularly true of areas along the borders of Libya in the southeast and Algeria in the west.
In December 2010, popular protests broke out in large parts of Tunisia. The rebellion originated in political, economic and social conditions. High unemployment, especially among young people, and increased prices, especially for food, were triggering causes. Under this was opposition to a hated regime and demands for democratization – and that President Ben Ali had to leave.
Despite Tunisia being a – on an Arab scale – secular and liberal country with significant economic growth, the regime was perceived as increasingly authoritarian and corrupt. At the same time, political rights were curtailed. Tunisia was criticized by several teams for human rights violations from the late 1990s, and doubts were raised about how free and fair the 2009 elections were.
The riot started with protests in the small town of Sidi Bouzid on December 17, 2010, when a young vegetable vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set fire to himself after being humiliated by police. He later died from the injuries. From there, the rebellion spread to large parts of the country. The rebellion in Tunisia, also known as the “jasmine revolution”, triggered what was then known as the Arab Spring.
The president’s promises of further democratization and social reform, and that he himself would not run for re-election in 2014, were rejected by those who protested. On January 14, 2011, the state of emergency was introduced and the government dissolved; new elections were announced within six months. The uprising was intensified as a result of the authorities’ handling, with the use of police and security forces. Various numbers are pending on how many were killed; Some sources state numbers above 300. The Tunisian defense refused to take action against the protesters, which eventually led to the resignation of President Ben Ali. After first responding to the protests of the state of emergency, the president and his family were forced to leave Tunisia in January 2011 and went into exile in Saudi Arabia. He was tried in 2011 in absentia and sentenced to 35 years in prison for theft of state property, then life imprisonment for participating in the assassination of protesters.