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This Woman Is Helping Improve Learning for Children in Tunisia

This article was developed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and published here with the approval of UNIDO.

From an early age, Houda Najjari has been passionate about education. She saw a real need based on the poor quality of public education that her daughter and other children in her area were receiving. She decided to launch the "Center of Excellence" in order to provide additional support to these children and raise their achievement levels.

“After graduating from university in Mathematics in 2011, I waited a long time for an assignment as a high school teacher, as the competition for this position is very high,” said Naijari. “This is how I started to develop a new state of mind and perceive myself as an entrepreneur. Even if I was very far from this profile, I was mostly engaged in a process of reflection and action that led me to start my own business. Launching your own project is not an easy task, given the obstacles that can be encountered such as finding a location or financing. But with the will to become an entrepreneur, everyone can gradually overcome these challenges."

Convinced of the need to support the younger generation in their school curriculum, Najjari opened the Center of Excellence in August 2017 in Tozeur, Tunisia. The mission of this private educational center is to improve the education and achievements of students 6 to 19 years old. From the start, she employed five full-time educators and assistants.

Despite a slow launching process, the creation of her company accelerated in July 2017 when she met the Mashrou3i team and attended a HP LIFE Business Coaching Program Workshop.

The Mashrou3i program, organized by UNIDO in partnership with USAID, the Italian Cooperation, and the HP Foundation, is designed to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship and offer tools that support fledgling business owners. Its mission is to create some 6,000 jobs and reach more than 25,000 aspiring and existing entrepreneurs in Tunisia over the next five years.

In addition to mentoring and technical skills training, participants have access to HP LIFE, a free, online program of the HP Foundation, which features 28 interactive modules covering business and IT skills training in seven languages.

“My first contact with Mashrou3i happened by chance at the ANETI, the National Agency for Employment and Self-Employment in Tunisia, following a meeting to raise awareness on business creation,” said Naijari. “I was invited to attend an HP LIFE workshop. I was very enthusiastic and enjoyed the training a lot. I even encouraged my business partner to take it.

“The HP LIFE e-Learning training has been very beneficial to me in terms of developing concepts,” she added. “It even gave me ideas of how to improve my own training methods. Through HP LIFE and the Mashrou3i workshop I was also able to develop a viable business plan and to determine all the costs of my project through specific IT tools.”

At only 34 years old, Houda has already found her destiny. After opening her educational support center, she wants to open a private school with a liberal methodology. The parents of the children are satisfied and receptive to the strengths of the Center of Excellence thanks, in part, to the creation of fun activities in IT, mathematics, and languages.

“It is certainly only the beginning,” said Naijari. “My resources might be limited for the moment, but I would like to retain my customers through a service of quality and to build a reputation which will allow me in the long run to realize my dream: the opening of a private school.