Thouraya Souissi1 and Olfa Mahjoub2
1. Institution of Agricultural Research and Higher Education – IRESA
2. University of Carthage, National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water and Forestry - INRGREF
The paper aims to highlighting the Competency-Based Curriculum review and design adopted by the Institution of Agricultural Research and Higher Education (IRESA) of Tunisia to develop and build capacities of Agricultural Engineers in three disciplines including Rural Engineering, Water and Forestry to enhance their employability and meet the country water’s challenges.
The agricultural sector in Tunisia is facing serious challenges. The country has to cope with limited renewable resources and to adapt to climate change while it is witnessing a manifest mismanagement of the water resources (low water use efficiency). Contaminants released in (insufficiently) treated effluents are threatening the available water resources due, among others, to highly energetic and unaffordable cost of advanced treatment and the low enforcement of/or obsolete regulations. Consequently, achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6 related to water and sanitation by 2030 and setting new goals requires a paradigm shift to be promoted through new and innovative approaches to be put into practice by the future generations of Agricultural Engineers. Therefore, enhancing our understanding of water management would require significant and profound transformations in curriculum and development of innovative approaches in teaching and developing skills to keep pace with real water issues and better prepare next generation to address the above-mentioned challenges.
Information and data were collected in 2019 from socio-economic reviews, policy reports, and existing teaching programs across the three institutions of the Agricultural Higher Education offering study programs degrees in the above discipline. A benchmarking with universities in Canada, France and Morocco was performed. In addition, surveys took place with around 100 professionals and 400 graduates of the last two decades, and 3 moderated workshops with focus groups of professionals of the agricultural and water sector were organized.
Job descriptions were determined and job tasks were analyzed. Key competencies for engineers in the 3 specialties were identified, namely: 1) Water Resources and Management, 2) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and 3) Irrigation. Study programs were elaborated based on the defined competencies by multidisciplinary working groups of faculties, defined competencies were organized into course learning outcomes and objectives, and curricula meeting stakeholders’ requirements are being redesigned with faculty and researchers to adequately prepare future students, researchers, and teachers to tackle the real challenge of water management in Tunisia.
The project will harness the employability of engineers and meet the professionals’ needs in
terms of competencies to better tackle water and food issues of the agricultural sector.