The 1st Forum on education held in Sfax (Tunisia), from April 1st to 30th 2017, organised by actors of the Tunisian civil society in partnership with the University of Sfax and some of its institutions was on the topic of Pedagogy in University and the training of teachers. Among the attendees were researchers and actors in the field of education in Tunisia, Maghreb, Europe and Canada. If in this first edition of the forum, the university pedagogy was considered, justifiably, as a laboratory of training devices and educational interventions for all cycles of teaching, it was aimed more specifically toward teachers who are charged with fostering the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills and attitudes at all levels of teaching. Thorough questioning made it possible to analyse their training and the adequacy of their preparation, not only for the trade, but for the pivotal role that they must play within the framework of structures, regulations and spaces for educational intervention. Therefore, this forum provided an opportunity to put at the heart of the studies and discussions the dimensions relating to the school’s and the university’s missions, the structuring of training programs, the institutionalization of pedagogical training, the role of new technologies in pedagogy, innovative teaching practices and pedagogical research.
The success of the first forum and the participants’ satisfaction with regard to the relevance of the organized activities made it possible to identify avenues for reflection so that successive editions of the forum can be held and serve to anchor an expert and citizen dialogue and lead to concrete proposals of transformative actions. In a series of planned editions and in a perspective of continuation, interaction and application, a 2nd forum has been deemed useful to address the theme of governance. While the principle of governance has been evoked as an integral part of an educational construct, but summarily at the first forum, it is now necessary to bring enlightened and precise interest to the governance of education by including educational policies, funding frameworks, strategic plans and the management system of the administrative units in charge of educational and research institutions; to examine university governance, take a close look at higher education institutions, as well as school governance and its applications in school and training centers; to consider the scope of strategic change management and organizational, administrative and pedagogical leadership; to analyze innovation practices and educational interventions promoting perseverance and educational success; in essence to propose, for all these dimensions, food for thought and forward-looking strategies of action.
This Forum is taking place at a time when the governance of educational institutions is questioned, where public and private bodies such as international organizations are questioned (Hébert and Abdi, 2013) and the pressures on education systems are increasingly stronger for the actors to report on their performance (Charbonnier, 2010, CSE, 2010, Maroy, 2013, Ben Raies, 2017). Much like many other societies, Tunisia must question the effectiveness of its education system. This concern manifests itself in the wake of reviews (Bouttemont, 2002, Boukhayatia, 2015, Ben Jelil, 2015) which highlight not only a difficulty in achieving the objectives set by the national authorities and organized by the organizations, but also challenges, numerous and considerable, facing the educational system (Hafaiedh, 2002, 2013 ; Ben Raies, 2017). Among these, allow us to cite the global/local report, the empowerment of autonomous educational institutions, the revitalization of university research activities, the need to ensure the success of the greatest number of students and to reduce the drop-out rate; the qualification of many, young and older; the more harmonious integration of troubled youths; the survival of regional schools; the employability and social integration of youths, etc.
Concerns are therefore focused on the operationalization of adequate educational policies, the activation of effective governance at all levels of education toward the funding of basic and applied research and the means to stimulate it toward a coming-together and articulation between university and professional research activities and community organizations and finally, toward the civic commitment of all actors invested in education.
This event will also be an opportunity to take stock of the conditions likely to stimulate the emergence of forums for exchange between research and practice in education to remedy the shortcomings of transfers between researchers, practitioners and civil society actors. As the convergence between research and practice is successful, it is not only the managers, but all the actors who can play a key role as leaders, bearers of convictions and mediators facilitating the appropriation of new knowledge and rooting innovations in the practices of educational organizations, especially since educational systems are evolving more and more in a socio-economic environment based on knowledge and collective intelligence. Subject to new results-based public management (Beauchesne, 2008), they are subject to significant impacts, (Pelletier, 2016), particularly with respect to management and decision-making processes in educational institutions and in knowledge production units (Crespo, Dridi and Lecomte 2013). It is the responsibility of school principals to supervise and support such processes in order to ensure the focus on educational success (FQDE, 2016). As agents of change (Arcand, 2011), these managers contribute with the other actors in the community, through their shared and inclusive leadership, to the development of human potential and the quality of human relations.
Through the different axes, the speakers at the Forum (of Tunisia, Maghreb and the rest of Africa, Europe, North America) will be able to suggest avenues of innovation, creativity and adaptation when faced with the complexity of governance and management tasks, as well as facing the frequent changes imposed upon all educational systems, to the actors involved in education. It will be a good opportunity to reflect on the strengthening of links between universities or training institutions and professional circles, businesses and citizens. It will be advantageous to identify the process of reconciliation between the activities of scientific research and professional practices. An equation between education, training, employment and citizenship is not only relevant to the heart of the discussions, but it is also essential to demonstrate empirically its viability in the current state of education.
To promote reflection, discussion and various concrete proposals, this Forum is divided into six axes. Round tables will enable specialists from the Forum’s axes to debate in a theoretical and practical framework. The communications and posters will promote the sharing of knowledge and experiences in education between researchers and experts from different fields, and actors in the educational community and civil society. Debates, in different forms, will give the participants a chance to surpass intention toward commitment and reflection toward action.