While Tunisia is going through an acute economic crisis, the education sector is suffering from these financial difficulties. Faced with this situation, an NGO wants to transform schools in Tunisia into “social enterprises”. The goal: that they generate income themselves. Visit to a company operating as a pilot project, Makthar College, located in the north-west of the country.
From our correspondent in Tunis,
As always welcomed with open arms. For ten years, the NGO has Wallah we can trying to improve the daily life of this college located in a disadvantaged area of Tunisia. At the head of the project, Lotfi Hamadi. Originally from this region, he has an obsession: to give children the opportunity to study in decent conditions.
“We see that even candidates are leaving Tunisia. We must manage from an early age to give these children access to education and also give these children the opportunity to want to flourish in this country, he explains. We must unite Tunisians with Tunisia, and that is through education.”
To enable this school to meet its needs, the NGO had the idea of encouraging it to generate income. Chaïma Rhouma, member of the association and alumna of the college, acts as our guide. “We have placed solar panels on the roof. The water for the showers comes from there. Once we have achieved our energy self-sufficiency, we can sell energy.”
Self-sufficiency of the establishments Maintenance of the establishment, theater, cinema or entrepreneurial workshops, the NGO’s projects for the institution’s 570 school children are numerous and varied. To manage to set them up, Wallah We Can multiplies the sources of income.
Recently, the association decided to rent eight hectares of agricultural land: “Here are the tomatoes, within a month and a half they can be picked”, hopes Chayeb. But also potatoes, beans or peas. Like this man, a dozen parents of students in this country work full-time or occasionally. “This is Miss Wassila, this is Mohamed. They are also parents of students”, Chayeb presents.
For a little less than 200 euros a month, a little more than the Tunisian minimum wage, these parents work for their children’s school. The vegetables grown will primarily be used to feed middle school students at lunchtime. Surplus will be sold.
With great pride, Lotfi Hamadi expects a production of 200 tons this year and receipts, which he estimates at almost 100,000 euros. “Our goal is not to do just one action. Our goal is to have a model from which all the solutions can be reproduced everywhere in Tunisia. We must stop thinking that the state can do everything. The state is down.”
It took ten years to complete this project. Despite red tape, the promoters of the concept still believe in its potential.