Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why the Need to Renew School Mission Today?

During the last decade of last century, the world has witnessed an unrecorded high-speed scientific and technological revolution which impacted all aspects of life and brought about enormous changes characterised by the swiftness of their dissemination, mainly in the domain of education and training. Obviously, schools -in developed and developing countries- are no longer what they used to be.

In this respect, education stakeholders in Tunisia have anticipated the difficulties that would inevitably arise as a result of these huge transformations, by deeply reflecting on the issue of the renewed mission of the school in a world bound to witness deep changes affecting the structure of society and knowledge, the methods of work and the means of production.

That's why, we can notice that the educational system in our country is witnessing a deep reform movement in order to adhere to a society where high-quality knowledge has become the cause of peoples' development and the basis for their immunity and strength.

High-tech mutations have posed -and continue to posing- serious challenges to school, which had to imperatively reconsider its objectives, methods and means. As a response to these challenges, decision-makers in the domain of education have given educational reform a prominent degree amongst their occupations and made it an absolute priority to upgrade quickly the educational system. In fact, reform redefined the finalities and missions of school, instituted compulsory and free basic schooling, and restructured secondary education, in a manner that makes Tunisian education resolutely turned towards the future. Upgrading educational human resources, official syllabuses and ways of implementing the new reform are basically the 3 strategies undertaken to keep our schools up-to-date. It goes without saying that we are aware of the difficulties we are faced with; it's a battle which needs conviction, patience, commitment and most importantly change of mentalities. Despite some slowness and reluctance -quite normal at the beginning of every change- the process is under way.

Because future-oriented schools require the mastery of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as tools to access the modern society of knowledge, we have taken them both as a means to update our educational system and as a powerful teaching and learning partner. The integration of ICT in teaching-learning processes has become a hallmark that stresses what is known as the Tunisian visionary approach which aims to lead people towards a better future where everyone has a share, a role and a position. These technologies represent a strategic choice in our future-oriented schools and they aim to:

* be used as a teaching aid to assist learners,

* access various fields of knowledge,

* ensure a solid general education in all basic fields.

Apart from equipping our educational institutions with computers and Internet connection and integrating ICT in our everyday school practices, we are contributing to the development of distance education through the Tunisian Virtual School (TVS) which has been launched since 2002. The TVS provides its users -students and educators- with free interactive courses and training tutorials to help them improve their face-to-face education.

Nevertheless, in the domain of ICT-based education, there are still challenges on the individual, national and international levels that need to be overcome because the performance of an education system is no longer measured by the size of the school-going population or amount of funds allocated to it, but by the ratio between those enrolled in school and those who leave and have experienced high-quality learning.

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