Our team conducted several interviews and a small survey concerning the willingness of Tunisian students to learn subjects or skills outside the scope of their school’s main curriculum or alternatively offer help in certain subjects -in which they excel- to those less proficient than them. This could be for a small fee – governed by a credit system that will be explained further in the next section – or preferably, for free. Our region of choice was Tunis mainly for the fact that it is a representative sample of Tunisia as a whole, as it gathers individuals from all regions and districts, it is simply a scale-model of the country both geographically and demographically.
Target individuals for our study ranged from high school students to recent college graduates and young professionals and scholars. Respondents were chosen at random and questioned in public locations. Survey included 5 questions at most regarding most off-curriculum skills sought, willingness to assist fellow students with courses and assignments, readiness to invest money in learning new skills, and availability during the week. As expected, education and youth development turned out to be a major concern and thus our target field of action.
Results indicated that most students are inclined to offer help to fellow students if motivated by a small fee or free courses and assistance in return for their services. All respondents expressed a desire to learn a new skill – if not more – and receive guidance concerning their career and their employment profile. Our proposed solution consists in a network of scholars, students, instructors and employers willing to exchange help and assistance either through public institutions which by permission of authorities, will provide classrooms where workshops, info-sessions, meetings, and even courses will be delivered) or through a web interface. The Network will be governed by a credit system in which points are earned through offering help, and expensed to receive it. Ranks will be assigned based on reviews and reputation. Points can be purchased if one is not qualified to offer help to make some on his own. Professors and instructors that volunteer will help evaluate volunteering students and their capability to instruct others and will also share recorded lectures of their classes that will be kept in an up-to day archive of audio/video and text courses. Video conferences will be scheduled weekly, and all forms of meetings can be arranged on the web interface or otherwise on site, in any of the network’s offices in universities, institutions, coffee shops or youth clubs.
Finally, our project, namely, the Skills Magnet Program (SMP), aims to deliver tutorials and courses in a horizontal relationship among participants where subjects and skills are taught and learnt based on preference not curriculums, offered for free, or for a fee of convenience, all the while making use of the extended network of friends and acquaintances between students, the existing public institutions’ infrastructure and the guidance of professionals and employers. A limitless, parallel and self-sustainable education network that respects the learner’s preferences and hobbies while better preparing them to meet job criteria and employers’ demands.