Education is a high priority in Tunisia as it has been for many years since independence. The academic year is divided into three trimesters, with the school year beginning September 15 and ending June 30. The average time spent in school is 32 hours per week, unevenly distributed between weekdays (from three to six hours per day) and between classes (from one to five hours per week), depending on the field of specialization. On Friday afternoons, Saturday afternoons and Sundays, schools are closed. Schools are generally public, managed by the Ministry of Education.
When coming to Tunisia with AFS, students are registered in a Tunisian secondary school called more commonly Lycée. Grades 4-7 of secondary education cover the final four years of pre-university public schooling, with students taught in lycées. For two years in the lycées all students take a common course of study; two more years of specialized studies follow where each student selects one particular field: experimental science, math, language/arts/humanities, economics and business management, or technical studies.
The Tunisian educational system is geared to produce bilingualism in French and Arabic. Classical Arabic is the official language of Tunisia, as it is in all 20 Arab countries with a total population of nearly 300 million. This language is used in schools, newspapers and official correspondence. In daily life, within the family, with friends and in informal contacts, Tunisians speak a Tunisian Arabic dialect. French is Tunisia’s second language and is very widely spoken. Mostly, scientific subjects are taught in French in secondary schools.Tunisian education system offers also the possibility to learn a lot in topics such as history, literature, foreign languages (French, English, Spanish, German, Italian, and also in some school Russian and Chinese).