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Yassine, a young Tunisian agronomist, sees his future in Tunisia. "What motivates me is to be able to live well here in Tunisia and not to have to emigrate to another country" he says. Yassine has created his own start-up and is now one of the first to produce organic inputs for agriculture. Like Yassine, thousands of young Tunisians are overflowing with innovative ideas and the desire to launch ambitious occupational projects.

The revolution of 2011 gave rise to a surge of hope and optimism among young Tunisians and throughout the region. Six years later, these aspirations for change have not left them. Young Tunisians want to play a greater role in building their country and to be involved at all levels. And even though there are many challenges still to be faced, there is a huge amount of energy and potential: 30 % of Tunisians are aged under 30.

“Young Tunisians face many problems on a daily basis. We need jobs and opportunities to make a living! Finally, we are not represented in the various sectors of our society,” explains AbdelAziz when describing his feelings, before realising that he might have a role and be able to change things.


"How can we be heard when we express ourselves?” he asks.


After the revolution, Abdel Aziz, 24, wanted to feel able to play a full part in shaping his future and the future of his country. © UNESCO

Since the revolution, efforts have been made by the Tunisian authorities to introduce policies that favour young people and meet their expectations and needs. The Ministry of Youth and Sport is working on a national integrated strategy for young people up to 2030. Tunisian civil society, which is also very much committed to supporting the ambitions of young Tunisians, is taking action to make their voice heard and launch targeted campaigns that affect their everyday lives.

In its campaigns in favour of young people, Tunisia can count on the support of the European Union, which is strongly committed to helping the country to consolidate its transition to democracy. "Tunisia can count on the EU, while always paying particular attention to the situation of Tunisian young people ... Our aim is still to offer young Tunisians future prospects and also a place in their country, in the society of their country now", declared High Representative Mogherini in her most recent visit to Tunisia.

La Haute Represent ante Federica Mogherini dialoguant avec des jeunes tunisiens 

The European Union and Tunisia launched the EU-Tunisia Youth Partnership on1  December 2016.  This partnership bolsters EU support for the young people of Tunisia in a number of different areas: education, training and vocational integration paying particular attention to the most disadvantaged areas, mobility of students and young people and their participation in public life.  This support through current activities in all these areas amounts to about EUR 400 million.

“Our aim is to enable the rich potential of young people to blossom. There is an urgent need to give them better prospects for personal and vocational development by creating jobs and also through vocational training and education and political participation", explained High Representative Mogherini.

Since the launch of the Partnership, almost 1 800 students and academics have enjoyed the benefits of being able to move between the EU and Tunisia, which is three times as many as in 2016, thanks to the scaling-up of the Erasmus+ programme.

Chadhe Brahem, a 25-year-old studying for a Masters degree in English Literature, has enjoyed the benefit of an exchange with Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, through the Erasmus+ programme. “This was one of the most worthwhile experiences of my life, with one of the best programmes in my specialism in Europe. I was able to study with young people from all over the world: Germany, Russia, France, Greece, Italy and other countries, with whom I had very rewarding discussions. “

Chadhe Brahem


The Partnership also supports entrepreneurship and in 2017 over 61 000 young people enjoyed access to microloans to launch or develop their businesses and projects.

During celebration of the first year of the Youth Partnership, 14 young Tunisians from different fields of culture, business and higher education and from different regions told the President of the Republic of Tunisia about their careers to date and the challenges they had faced. They also bore witness to the impact that European programmes had had on their everyday lives and their future.


Strengthening EU support for Tunisia

Our aims are to work together to fight against the high level of youth unemployment, reduce social inequalities, support civil society and public administration reform, manage migration and mobility more effectively, fight corruption and solve security problems.

At the same time, we are continuing to support the implementation of the Tunisian constitution and support the democratic institutions of the country and Tunisian civil society, while also promoting and observing human rights. The EU is convinced that it is in our common interest to encourage the EU and Tunisian society to come closer together and strengthen dialogue between them through increased contacts and mobility. To do this, it is important to  recognise the essential role played by culture in political, social and economic development. In its support, the EU will continue to pay particular attention to young people and women of all ages and to involve civil society in all its activities.

Feeling able to play a full part

It was in 2013 that the life of Abdel-Aziz took a new turn when his professor at university advised him to join a students’ club.

“I therefore joined ‘2main tu crées’ [Tomorrow you create with both hands], and before I knew it, I

was deeply involved in civil society. The club chair recommended me to represent the association in the NET-MED Youth project funded by the EU and implemented by UNESCO. I couldn't believe it! I used to see UNESCO on television and to hear news about it, in the belief that it was a space reserved for ambassadors. I didn't know that UNESCO also works with young people.”

Abdel Aziz explains that the consultations, training sessions and discussions he has had with various people, including officials from ministries and universities, researchers and people working for civil society and other organisations have taught him more about defending human rights and the position of young people in Tunisia. “I now have an overall view of the situation. I have a better understanding of the views of our political parties and decision-makers about the inclusion of young people", he says.

Video of Mediterranean Superheroes: We influence and rebuild | Tunisia #BuildTomorrow


He is convinced that many questions can be resolved if dialogue is established between young people and public institutions. “If our decision-makers commit themselves to listening to us and responding to our needs, we will be less attracted to the negative forces that ruin our lives. We have therefore prepared a plan with other members of NET-MED Youth. But first of all, we wanted to start small and try out our plan", explains Abdel Aziz.

With his peers in NET-MED Youth, Abdel Aziz has started to work on the preparation of a public policy oriented towards young people on a smaller scale, at Kalaat al Andalous, a municipality 37 km from Tunis.

They met local civil society organisations, young people and municipal decision-makers at a meeting in the town hall. The young people had many suggestions to make about how to improve their town. The decision-makers interacted with them, listened to their ideas and finally gave the green light for three projects: a recreational space for young people and families; a house of culture and a museum to promote the cultural heritage of the municipality; and ICT spaces to enable young people to learn and access information.


Potential that only needs to blossom

Abdel Aziz is only one of so many Tunisians who aspire to play a greater role in building their country and be involved at all levels, not just to improve their personal situation.

The Tunisian civil society that we saw emerge after the revolution abounds in young women and men determined to bring about positive change in the country. Young women and men who are just as motivated are busy changing the entrepreneurial landscape of Tunisia through the introduction of  innovative ideas and practices.

Yassine, the young agronomist, has been able to complete his business project after having received training in European projects.  Training that has enabled him to acquire business skills and give concrete form to his project.  


Video of Yassine (Tunisia) DiaMed and SwitchMed

Like Yassine, but in a different area, Nesrine, a young Tunisian woman who dreamed of providing her young compatriots with a cultural space in which they could express and discuss their thoughts, took training under the European Med Culture project. Following the training, she launched her cultural centre project in Tunis. 

The AfroMed centre is a citizen participation space for training, artistic creativity and the promotion of cultural activism.  By offering young people activities and the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and use and improve their talents in various arts, including dance, graffiti and theatre, the centre contributes to efforts to include young people in society and promote arts and culture, working with education to combat radicalism and extremism.

Video of Nesrine (Tunisie) MedCulture


It cannot be denied that young Tunisians have the abilities, motivation and energy to make society develop. They only need to be given the means and the opportunities to do so.

“Our young people must always be at the centre of our attention and, in particular, our actions. This is not a favour we are granting them, nor is it just to invest in the future, since, when half of the population is under 30, there can be no development, democracy or present if young people are not directly involved and have no stake in the decision-making process in the country", affirms High Representative of the European Union Federica Mogherini.

With 250 million euros granted by the EU in 2016 and 1.2 billion euros between 2017 and 2020, the EU is stepping up its financial support to help the country to consolidate its transition to democracy and relaunch its economy.
Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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