Empowering Youth and Educators. Tunisia

Inspire. Engage. Enrich. Stimulate. Support.

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In 2011, Dr. Saloua Saidane, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to spend a Sabbatical year in Tunisia.  During that year, she developed a pilot program designed to empower students and educators.  The novelty of what was offered was soon noticed by educators around the country who invited Dr. Saidane to their institutions to explain the approach.  By the end of the academic year, the program was introduced to six institutions at four different regions of the country.

The success of the pilot program, led to the creation of the EYE project that was funded by the US Embassy for three consecutive years.  The project consisted in offering courses for students and training for educators.  Each educator who participated in the teacher training program was given a certificate of attendance cosigned by the AMIDEAST, U.S. non-profit NGO with offices in 12 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, whose overarching mission is to expand opportunity through education and training.  The student course was taught to over 1500 students at four different institutions in Tunis and Beja.  The educator training course was attended by over 1000 educators.   Students and educators who attended the courses felt their positive impact on their lives.  A pre- and post-course questionnaire showed a clear paradigm shift in their way of thinking about their lives – their roles, roles of others, and their value systems.  University faculty reported that students were more involved in school activities than previously noted and suggested the creation of a structure that would allow them to teach the course to elementary and high school students on a volunteer basis.  The majority of students and educators suggested that this approach should be adopted at all educational levels throughout the country.

This association is created as a result of the overwhelming response to the EYE project. Its main objective is to help consolidate the progress made so far with the project and ensure its sustainability.  


The idea behind the EYE project stems from the extensive and diverse teaching and life experience of Dr. Saloua Saidane who was first educated in Tunisia and where she taught both High School and University level courses and then moved to US where she taught at two different states (New Jersey and California) at the high school, university and community college level.  She also had extensive teacher training in New Jersey and California where she was certified.  

These teaching and life experiences allowed her to learn and reflect on what works in education and more importantly, she understood what went wrong with the Tunisian educational system, a system that was producing a rising number of unemployed college graduate youth who are incapable of taking care of themselves and increasingly becoming a burden on their society. This is a problem for the entire society that is failing its youth, creating dysfunctional communities that are bursting with anger, frustration, and even violence and terror.  In order to address this problem, she realized that: (a) what the students needed the most was educators who play the role of mentors willing to guide their students and prepare them for success in every single level academic, personal and professional and (b) that educators needed training and tools necessary to understand and address their students’ needs.

The major problem in the Tunisian educational system is that it is built on a top down hierarchical structure that produced dependent youth incapable of taking control of their success. Most of this youth is not aware of its potential and its role in achieving success and is left waiting to be assisted in every single way, not knowing how to take initiatives and make things happen in their lives. These youth become adults and perpetrate the same dependency that foster frustration, anger, violence and even submission—breaking the structure of dependency can only happen through a paradigm shift and a behavioral change both for the students and the educators.

The approach is:  First to create awareness in both youth and educators by allowing them to see the correlation between success, paradigms, attitudes and behaviors hoping that awareness will create change that will allow students to take control of their success.  Second, is to empower educators by helping them acquire the tools necessary to create a positive environment at home and in the classroom, that foster growth and success.  This will equip students with values and lifelong skills necessary to build a society fit for the 21st century.