Empowering Youth and Educators in Tunisia
Tunisian students take a training course as part of the Empowering Youth and Educators (EYE) program.

"The teaching profession is not only about delivering knowledge. It’s also about pushing young people to recognize and believe in their potential and help them shape their future,” says Tunisian university professor Hajer Hichri.

Professor Hichri should know. He is a trainer in Empowering Youth and Educators (EYE), an AMIDEAST program that is empowering young Tunisians by recognizing that educators play a critically important role in developing young lives, but need training to be effective.

Developed in the wake of the Tunisian Revolution by Dr. Saloua Saidane, a Fulbright alumna and faculty member at Mesa Community College in San Diego, California, the innovative program consists of separate courses for students and teachers that focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills.

The courses are ultimately about assisting young Tunisians to become both independent citizens, capable of taking control of their lives and destiny, and interdependent citizens, capable of building themselves, their communities, and their country in a democratic and inclusive way.

Since 2016, Dr. Saidane has partnered with AMIDEAST, with funding from the U.S. Embassy, to deliver the student growth course to more than 2,000 students and the two-part educator development course to nearly 1,300 educators in Tunisia. By developing a cadre of 44 trainers and seven master trainers, the program has been able to reach even underserved interior regions such as Gafsa, Gabes, and Nafta.

Recently, trainers have also started promoting the EYE concepts through monthly radio sessions that are broadcast throughout the country. Because of the program’s success, moreover, AMIDEAST is working with Dr. Saidane and her master trainers to transfer it to the newly-formed EYE Association in order to ensure its sustainability.

“To me, this represents the best of what we can do in partnership with Tunisia,” said Michael Macy, a former public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tunis. What makes it stand out, he explains, is its emphasis on responsibility, lifelong learning, independence, and self-efficacy — core American values, in his view.