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Education

This Woman Opened a School to Create Opportunities for Children in Tunisia

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


Hédia Gouassmya has always loved children and dreamed that one day she would help to improve their education. Now at 29 years old, alongside her role as a mother, she runs a kindergarten in Gafsa, Tunisia, where she employs an administrative manager and eight childcare workers.

“I put all my effort into making this project a reality,” said Gouassmya. “I succeeded thanks to the encouragement and support of my family. My parents believed in me and I wanted to live up to their trust. The road to success has not been without difficulties, but with determination and perseverance I’ve been able to gradually overcome the challenges I encountered.”

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In 2013, Gouassmya graduated in French. Although she did not have experience in childhood education, she decided to launch her kindergarten project and in the absence of a teaching diploma, she recruited a certified director to manage her business.

To minimize costs, Gouassmya chose a location in the suburbs, quite far away from the city center. Despite running the risk of being located in a neighborhood where it is harder to find customers, soon the good reputation of her kindergarten spread.

“My kindergarten was funded through family support and a self-funded investment of 17,000 Tunisian Dinars which I used to equip three rooms for the learning, play, and rest of children aged from 3 to 6 years old, as well the reception.”

Following her meeting with the HP LIFE team of Mashrou3i program, the project gathered speed to its launch.

Mashrou3i, 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.

“I completed 27 courses on the HP LIFE e-Learning platform, which enabled me to develop technical skills on the one hand to develop my business plan, and on the other hand to learn the basics to manage the business,” she said. “I also benefited from the support and personal coaching of the HP LIFE trainer who helped me finalize my business plan.”

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Gouassmya talks about her new profession with great dynamism and enthusiasm. “I invest myself daily in the management of the kindergarten, from discussing and answering parent’s questions to preparing the education plan of the children which is at the core of our profession.”

Alongside the kindergarten, Gouassmya is very active in associations for human development in Gafsa and has just been elected as the representative of the services sector at UTICA (Tunisian union of commerce and handicrafts industry) in Gafsa to defend the interests of kindergartens.

“My advice to young people who, like me, want to start their own project but have little or no experience is that with willpower and perseverance you can succeed.”