Project description

The article “An Educational System in Stagnation: The Numbers” uses data visualization to present information gathered from various Tunisian ministries related to the education sector and other institutions such as the National Institute of Statistics (INS). The article discusses Tunisia’s education system, from kindergarten to higher education, in both the public and private sectors.

Through analyzing and presenting long-term datasets — sometimes covering more than thirty years — the article shows different evolutions within the educational sector for figures such as the number of public and private schools nationwide, student-to-teacher ratios, graduation rates, etc.

Through this data, we can gain a better understanding of Tunisia’s education system as it appears throughout the governorates. For example, the data shows that some governorates have only one or two high schools; overall, Tunisia has 300. These findings highlight the uneven distribution of education institutions in Tunisia.

The data also highlights disparities in passing, failing, and dropout rates over the years. Pulling data from many different years allows us to visualize trends, but it also highlights the impact of historical changes, such as government actions related to education and their consequences.

For example, data visualization clearly demonstrates that in the 2014/2015 school year, failing rates for primary schools were lower than average. At times during this period, teachers in public primary schools went on strike; consequently, the government made decisions that impacted passing rates and facilitated the transition to the next year.

Through interactive maps, the article groups data by region. It is therefore possible to track the evolution of baccalaureate pass rates across time and space; results across all governorates are compared for 5 consecutive years. In addition to presenting pass rates, the data can also be broken down by gender or the chosen “speciality” subject for the baccalaureate test.

This article aims to inform the entire Tunisian public; it can provide information to students who want to learn about the schools near them, but it also assists anyone wishing to learn more about Tunisia’s education system in practice.

What makes this project innovative?

The use of data visualization in this article allows us to highlight trends and compare data across various categories. Questions around education systems are pertinent in every country, but the data that reveals the truth is not always easy to find or understand. The collaboration between journalists and developers for this article allows the reader to visualize the data in different forms and through different types of graphics. By hovering over the graphs, or by clicking in certain places, the reader can access more detailed data, and thus choose the degree of information he or she wishes to receive.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

This data visualization project is part of an education file published on Inkyfada’s website. This particular article was the first to be published, with the aim of providing a foundational base of data for the reader to better understand the context. At the time of the file’s publication, teachers of primary and secondary schools were frequently on strike and protesting alongside the UGTT, the Tunisian General Labor Union. Many newspaper articles published during this period focused on the strikes without putting them into perspective or addressing the root causes of teachers' demands. By confronting this issue, in part through data visualization, we were able to add nuance to these conversations. By comparing data over many years, we hope to provide our readers with a deeper understanding of issues related to Tunisia’s educational system. The purpose of the larger project is to provide a robust bank of engaging information that people can refer back to for many years to come.

Source and methodology

The data was collected from several sources. The majority of the data came from public bodies — the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, in particular. We also pulled information from other public sources, such as the National Institute of Statistics (INS). Some data also came from the Afkar Institute, a Tunisian NGO that analyzes Tunisian public policy by comparing data within and across Tunisian governorates and by comparing Tunisia to other countries. Some data was recycled from a previous Inkyfada article on the same subject. Published in 2015, it also discussed the state of Tunisia’s education sector. This data had also been collected from the previously mentioned organizations. After the data was compiled, it was then organized into a database. During this stage, we verified the data; if there were inconsistencies, duplications, or otherwise, the sources of these data were contacted for clarification. Even after the entire database was verified, these organizations were contacted for various other clarifications.

Technologies Used

This data visualization project is the result of collaboration between journalists, graphic designers, and developers. Once the data and visualizations were predefined, the graphic designer created all of the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) interactions, maps, and the styles of each infographic. Then, developers took the SVG style and create their own source code, which is a mix of JS, HTML, and CSS. As a result, the infographics became interactive. For this article, some of the infographics, such as maps, were entirely created from the developers' own source code. Other infographics were adapted from models found in the "amCharts" online library. First, the graphics designers would adapt the style; then, the developers adapt the source code. The article was integrated into the website thanks to the platform, developed by Inkylab. This platform allows journalists to autonomously integrate rich multimedia components — such as videos, infographics, and other innovative visualizations — online, without the help of developers at every step.

Project members

Chayma Mehdi : data visualization Mohamed Limem Smida: research and documentation Monia Ben Hamadi: Edition


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