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iiDebate-AYP : THIS IS YOUR QUICK GUIDE TO UNDERSTAND THE SITUATION OF YOUTH IN TUNISIA

If you haven’t asked the question “How’s the situation of youth in Tunisia?” yet, it’s about time you did. And if you’re looking for the answer, we got it right here!

Several brilliant participants from different parts of Tunisia gathered together for a weekend in Nabeul not to enjoy its beautiful sceneries and quiet suburbs, but to dwell upon a critical topic that is one of the pillars of concern in the Post-revolutionary Tunisia: the situation of youth in the country. This conference is hosted by iiDebate in the context of the national consultations conducted by the African Youth Panel.

What’s the African Youth Panel?

 

Every three years, the European Union and representatives from the African Union organize a summit to discuss collaborations between the two continents and set goals and priorities for work. The central theme for this year is: Youth! In support of this summit, the AYP is conducting national consultations in six African countries; Tunisia, Zambia, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria and Ethiopia; the aim of which is to pinpoint the challenges that youth are facing and to propose solutions to overcome them. The outcomes of these consultations are expected to provide the Panel with concrete diagnosis of the problems and a set of proposed solutions that could be used in the Youth Pre-Summit in Ethiopia and in the ultimate AU-EU Summit. There are six axes that the consultations are supposed to go over:

 

  • Business/Job Creation
  • Governance/Democratic Inclusion
  • Education and Skills Development
  • Peace & Security
  • Climate change and Environmental Sustainability
  • Culture, sports and Arts

During the consultations in Nabeul, the participants have managed to thoroughly criticize and allocate the deficiencies on the first four axes among both the youth and the institutions and proceeded to provide possible solutions to these problems through workshops and informal debates. Malak Loulou, one of the participants in the conference and one of the active members in the Tunisian civil society said that “it is so special to be part of the active young citizens that discuss common issues happening across the African continent and that we are trying to find solutions for these issues.”

In a nutshell, this is your quick guide to understand the situation of youth in Tunisia.

BUSINESS AND JOB CREATION


In this context, participants accounted for the noticeable laziness, low self-esteem and frustration among students and youth in general which hinder them from initiative-taking, information seeking and finding internships and training programs to be more prepared for the professional life. The lack of knowledge and skills among youth concerning entrepreneurial skills and founding start-ups is another issue that was discussed as well as the unpopularity of the notion of professional reconversion.

In terms of institutions, the disparity between the educational backgrounds of graduates and the job market, the overcomplicated administrative and bureaucratic procedures in the creation of entrepreneurial ventures, and the absence of commitment to hire young professionals were the three main challenges that were concluded in this regard. There were also discussions about the lack of information and communication about vocational training programs, online opportunities, and state support programs and the low efficiency of employment forums.

GOVERNANCE AND DEMOCRATIC INCLUSION


60% of the population is under 35 and only 9% of youth are active in NGOs. Most of the Tunisian youth live in rural areas that are being marginalized. The youth representation in political parties is flagrantly low despite them being the majority of the population.

The lack of transparency on the financial, judicial and political level stands in the way of establishing trust between youth and the other government institutions which creates tension and disparity between the two parties. The absence of the culture of debate among academic institutions as well as the political arena is the reason behind the lack of coexistence between political parties and their supporters. In addition, there is a dissonance between media outlets and governmental institutions which represent a source of concern and confusion for the youth population.

EDUCATION AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT


The frustration of students and educators is the cornerstone of this section. On one hand, there is a flagrant lack of financial support to education. The repercussions are outdated infrastructure for educational establishments, a very limited number of research laboratories and technological equipments, and a limited number to no existence at all of extracurricular activities and creativity centers. On the other hand, the educational systems are outdated and sometimes affected by political agenda and the schedules are exhausting and overburdening for teachers and students. Also, there is no focus on improving soft skills and harnessing creativity among students as the school systems are based on testing their memories. Since participants were all college students, they criticized the LMD system describing it as “inappropriate and incompatible” with the Tunisian context.

PEACE AND SECURITY


Observations made during the discussions show that youth played an important role in maintaining a peaceful atmosphere immediately after the revolution. They established groups to maintain security among neighborhood and residential areas as well as organizing many hygienic initiatives during that period. However, the problem that was undoubtedly the main concern of the consultations is the tense relationship between youngsters and security forces that is characterized by “enmity and mutual targeting”. The participants also highlighted the importance of abolishing the state of emergency as it is often used by security personnel as a cover for legal abuses. A limited presence of the culture of debate and its correlation to the rise of violence and extremism among youth was readdressed in this section and some participants stated that this represents one of the factors as to why certain groups of youth feel threatened.

“When one realizes one is asleep, at that moment one is already half awake.” P. D. Ouspensky.

Having proven that they’re half awake, the participants moved to the part of getting out of bed – which means finding the solutions. If you – like me – kept nodding your head and thinking “I know right!” while reading the first half of this article, you should proceed to read the next part about the solutions proposed by these brilliant participants!

BUSINESS AND JOB CREATION


The implementation of professional reconversion culture was one of the main solutions that participants proposed along with providing college students with more opportunities for internships, encouraging them to found and join NGOs and organizations, and increase the financial support for startups. In addition, they came up with the brilliant idea of creating a competition through which students can gain grants to support their projects and entrepreneurial ventures along with providing them with field visits to companies and governmental institutions and showcasing success stories to inspire more students to be involved. Arranging meetings between the ministry of higher education, the ministry of employment and civil society organizations was also another proposed solution.

 

GOVERNANCE AND DEMOCRATTIC INCLUSION


Participants proposed meetings between governmental institutions and civil society organizations to design strategies that will improve youth representation and suggested that there should be immediate attention to work on projects of decentralization to limit the marginalization of youth. Electing a chairman for the supreme commission and activating the constitutional court were deemed as urgent matters. There was consensus about the importance of digitizing information and activating the right to access information in order to sensitize citizens and increase trust between the government and the people.

EDUCATION AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT


A partnership between universities in North African countries and creating exchange programs on the national and the international levels were two of the many brilliant solutions proposed by the youth in the conference. In addition, they highlighted how creating student councils and groups of sharing between students and administrative staffs can be of positive impact on the overall educational system in Tunisia. The need to focus on soft skills and the need to constantly update teachers on the technological advances that globally affect education were also discussed and suggested as solutions.

PEACE AND SECURITY


Since youth represent the majority of the country’s population, assigning a quota of 30% in governmental institutions was a proposed idea to fix the representation of youth on the political and legislative level. Shedding the light on bureaucracy, reducing administrative procedures as well as starting the digitization of the procedures were suggested. The participants noticed the effect of Law 52 on youth so they proposed that it should be thoroughly and immediately reviewed.

Extremism among youth as mentioned above was a center of attention as it is a threat to peace and security. In this context, combating cultural marginalization and raising the budget for cultural and artistic activities was proposed as well as starting psychological rehabilitation programs for youth who are going through problems.


Coexistence, entrepreneurship, success stories, quality education, youth involvement, decentralization, etc… All these terms and more were used repeatedly in the conference. This conference is one of the many events that are happening across Tunisia and the African continent that give us hope for a prospective better involvement of youth.  


A TRIP TO ETHIOPIA!

The Youth Pre-Summit took place in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia on the 19th and 20th of November. It was an opportunity for the six countries in which the consultations happened to exchange reports and outcomes of these consultations.  In this summit, there was an analysis of a survey that was conducted on several youngsters that came mainly from the six countries. The survey said that job creation, education, and security are the three main concerns of African youth. In regards to government policies towards the six axes of the consultations, there was average to no satisfaction from the asked individuals in the survey but they proved to be more hopeful about the involvement of NGOs in these axes. For example, when asked about policies taken by the government in regards to business and job creation, the survey said that 40% chose “average”, 34% chose “poor” and 13% chose “good”. However, when asked about interventions taken by NGOs in the same field, 41% chose “average”, 36% chose “good” and 14% chose “poor”.

The Summit ended with the conclusion that African youth are “an important resource to the continent and the world at large that needs strategic investment” and that current practices need to be readjusted to be more inclusive and more compatible with their ambitions and demands. The conclusion also included that “It is possible to positively capture the resilience and the energy of the youth to avoid negative impacts that are already being felt in various countries”.


About the writer

Atef Amri :

Hello! I am Atef Amri. I am 21 years old and I go to Tunis Higher Institute of Languages as an English student. I am a member of the communication team interns. What I do in iiDebate is fundamentally content writing which means covering and writing about the projects and the main events that iiDebate is involved in, in order to give people insight into what we are doing and how we are doing it. Also, I am helping in the creation of a newsletter that will include iidebate’s activities in the last semester that will hopefully be ready by the beginning of 2018. My message to youth is “appreciate the good things around you in life and love yourself. Because if you can’t love yourself, then what’s the point of loving anything or anyone else

 About the video editor  

Ahlem Naceur,

I am Ahlem Naceur, a junior student at Tunis business school majoring in marketing with a minor in business analytics. I am in charge of editing all video for iiDebate. During the past two years I managed to become very active within clubs. Also I managed to have a part- time internship within a startup, that experience made me learn more about how to manage time between school and working, managing stressful situations and being successful in both.I participated in TBS MUN where I represented China. That was a challenging experience speaking with the name of a different country and defending it policies until the end. Currently a team leader of ICO_TBS (international cultural organization).