TRAINING ENGINEERS AS PART OF THE FIGHT AGAINST UNEMPLOYMENT AND OBSCURANTISM
What distinguishes ESPRIT is that 85% of its students have jobs six months after graduating – in a country with an unemployment rate of over 30% for people with higher education degrees. Its slogan is “Se former autrement” (“Learning differently”). Distancing itself from the “traditional” approach to education, the school emphasizes learning through problem-solving, the aim of which is to “put students in real workplace situations”, explains Naceur Ammar, its director. At the present time, 15% of Tunisia’s new engineers get their degrees at ESPRIT, which has ten dual diploma agreements abroad, above all with French schools. ESPRIT is also “one of the first schools in Africa to obtain EUR-ACE – the European accreditation for engineering programmes”, says Mohamed Jaoua, another of the school’s initiators. he school was created by three participants in the reform of public higher education, where they conducted their careers: Tahar Ben Lakhdar, Naceur Ammar and Mohamed Jaoua. “ESPRIT trains engineers for the business world, for the development of the country, for the creation of wealth. Our goal, our DNA, is the employability of our graduates,” Mr Jaoua explains. The three men share a desire to “offer general-purpose higher education”. At ESPRIT, annual tuition fees are in the vicinity of €2,500 (5,500 dinars). That amount, the founders stress, should be compared with what major French and American schools charge. “Our aim is to narrow the social divide in Tunisia; we don’t want education to be reserved for the wealthy.” That is why ESPRIT has established “a foundation that gives high-potential young people cheques that cover up to 100% of their tuition, depending on social background”.