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What is behind Tunisia's rising illiteracy?

Tunisians' first reaction to rising levels of illiteracy is to blame it on the economy, but experts say the mindset toward education has changed for the worse since the days of independence.
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Tunisia traditionally prides itself on its education system, but the country had a brutal reality check in September, when a key government official announced that its illiteracy levels had risen for the first time since independence in 1956. Tunisia is now working with the United Nations’ cultural and educational arm, UNESCO, to improve adult literacy levels and reach school dropouts. Experts believe there is a growing need for national campaigns to make education valuable again in the eyes of the people.

Tunisian Minister of Social Affairs Mohammad al-Traboulsi announced during a press conference Sept. 12 that illiteracy in Tunisia had risen from 18.2% in 2017 to 19.1% in 2018. These figures shocked Tunisians, who often pride themselves as the most educated and cultivated society in the Arab region.

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