U.S.-Tunisia Higher Education Initiative Offers New Beginning for Local Communities 

September 10, 2012 
Contact: Lynn Simmonds
(202) 243-7697
Email: lsimmonds@hedprogram.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Higher Education for Development (HED), with joint funding support from the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced two higher education partnerships focused on water management and renewable energy technologies in Tunisia’s agricultural and industrial sectors. Under the Tunisia Job Opportunities for Business Scale-up (Tunisia JOBS) initiative, the University of Colorado Boulder is partnering with three Tunisian Institut Supérieur des Etudes Technologiques (ISETs) to provide education to rural audiences for resource management under the partnerships:

  • “Promoting Water Management and Energy Efficiency Technologies in the Agricultural Sector of Tunisia” Partners: University of Colorado Boulder and ISET Sidi Bouzid.
    Other Partners: International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Development Communities, Colorado State University, and the University of Hawaii; and
  • “Promoting Sustainable Energy Technologies in the Industrial Sector of Tunisia” Partners: University of Colorado Boulder and ISET Tataouine and ISET Médenine.
    Other Partners: International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Development Communities, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Jacob Walles said “Tunisian officials and scholars have commented that a key challenge for Tunisian higher education is closing the classroom-to-workplace gap, which involves developing specialized skills among the workforce to increase their wage-earning potential. Tunisia JOBS will help bridge that gap.”

The Tunisian directorate for technical and vocational education worked closely with the U.S. government and HED to craft an initiative that fosters economic strength and boosts employability in the communities of Sidi Bouzid, Tataouine, and Médenine, located in the interior of Tunisia.

The University of Colorado Boulder and the three ISETs will plan new courses in water management, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, enabling graduates to contribute more effectively to the economic development of their communities. The partnerships will also address sustainability by building linkages with the communities and launching a center at each of the three ISETs to coordinate and promote extension activities.

During a Feb. 25 town hall in Tunis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized the positive outcomes of education to Tunisian youth. “Young people need to be educated. And in Tunisia, you have a lot of educated young people, and then in the interior and elsewhere, you have people who don’t have the same opportunity to be educated,” Clinton said. “So with those who are not yet fully educated, the education levels need to be raised. With people who are educated, even if you have a college degree, a university degree, it has to be marketable. So we have to take people who are educated and equip them for the modern economy.”

Tully Cornick, HED’s executive director, spoke enthusiastically about the future of the two partnerships. “Since the design stages of the Tunisia JOBS Initiative, the Tunisian ministries, HED and the U.S. government have placed the needs of Tunisia’s local communities at the center. I am confident that the partners will uphold this strong collaborative approach as they seek to strengthen economic development and resource management in Sidi Bouzid, Tataouine, and Médenine through education and community outreach.”

The joint State/USAID funded program is providing $1 million to fund the three-year higher education partnership in Sidi Bouzid focusing on promoting water management, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in the agricultural sector and the three-year higher education partnership in Tataouine and Médenine focusing on developing sustainable energy technologies in the industrial sector.

Since 2000, the University of Colorado Boulder has held three successful USAID-funded and HED-managed partnerships with institutions in Nepal, Mexico, and Brazil to tackle emerging energy issues.

HED mobilizes the expertise and resources of the higher education community to address global development challenges. HED manages a competitive awards process to access expertise with the higher education community in coordination with the American Council on Education (ACE), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). For more information about HED, visit http://www.hedprogram.org.