Taa Marbouta Scholarships
Malek Sghiri Scholarship
The Malek Sghiri Scholarship is a full tuition scholarship for a semester-long group course at the Taa Marbouta Language Centre in Tunis, Tunisia. The scholarship is only available for the Arabic language but the student does not need to have any experience with the Arabic language; they can join classes at the beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. The grant covers language classes and internship/research support costs. Please note that accommodation, travel & living costs are not included.
This grant aims to: 1) Increase the academic and professional skills of the participants through full-time academic study, professional internships, and civil society activities; 2) Help connect international students with local NGOs in Tunisia; 3) Learn more about Tunisia and the development of its civil society after the revolution of 2011, Immerse participants in a North African and Arabic-speaking country; 4) Create sustainable links with Tunisian communities and increase students’ cross-cultural understanding.
1) Between 18 and 35 years old; 2) From all countries and territories; 3) Demonstrable interest in human rights, anti-corruption & civil society
How to apply:
Applicants should submit their CV to firstname.lastname@example.org, alongside a 250 word explanation of how their work, studies, or career goals align with the vision and activism of Malek Sghiri. The awardee is also required to complete a short internship or research project during the summer linked to the issues of human rights, anti-corruption, and civil society. Contact email@example.com if you have any questions. The subject title of your email should be: Malek Sghiri Scholarship. The application deadline is 31 March 2023, 23:59 Tunisia time.
First scholarship recipient :
The first recipient of the Malek Sghiri Scholarship was Simone Trucco from Italy. Simone completed an internship with the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, in Tunis in early 2022, working on issues related to migration rights. He also completed a Master’s degree in Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation and Migration Studies, a joint programme between Ca’ Foscari University in Venice and Paul Valery University in Montpellier. He previously studied some Arabic in Egypt and Tunisia.
Simone’s work experience and motivation letter demonstrated a clear link between the principles Malek Sghiri stood for, and Simone’s own motivations and principles. Simone was with the Taa Marbouta Language Centre from September 2022 until December 2022 and Taa Marbouta Language Centre connected him with the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) to support research on migration. We were delighted to support him in the early stages of his career.
About Malek Sghiri :
One of the last prisoners of the Ben Ali Regime, Malek Sghiri was arrested on 11 January 2011. He was released six days later to discover that the people of Tunisia had toppled the dictatorship and started the rippling effect of the ‘Arab Spring’.
Malek was an activist as a student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Tunis, and later as a history teacher, researcher, and journalist. As noted in the book Writing Revolution, Malek led marches in Tunis, fought against security forces in Gasserine, and was detained and tortured in the depths of the Interior Ministry in downtown Tunis. ‘At a conference in Tunis on the Arab revolutions he criticized older speakers for limiting speaking time for younger delegates: “Don’t patronize the youth as our dictators have done for decades!”‘
Malek came from a family of activists and freedom fighters; his grandfathers fought for Tunisian independence, their fathers were leading figures in the 1906 uprising in Gasserine, and he could even trace his revolutionary genes to Ali Ben Ghadahom, a leader in the 1864 revolt against Mohamed Sadok Bey. Malek’s father was imprisoned for political activism under both Bourguiba and Ben Ali, and Malek vividly remembered his experiences visiting his father in jail. Malek wrote: ‘I confess that I am angry and bitter at this regime and I confess that I wanted revenge, but I also confess, with a clear conscience, that the trifling things I did – which others call fighting for freedom and which I call the search for meaning in an unintelligible world – were in no way the fruit of that thirst for vengeance…I cannot remember ever being pleased to see another person’s downfall or making the fight against tyranny a purely personal issue.’
He dreamt of a new generation of politicians and founded “Nouvelle Génération جيل جديد”, a movement of young activists in April 2011. He later joined the “Manish Msameh مانيش مسامح” campaign countering impunity, before becoming head of the “Courant Democrate التيّار الديمقراطي” political academy. Malek passed away on 10 June 2021 at the age of 35 while rescuing a friend from drowning. He lived and died for the values he believed in.
With the blessing of Malek’s wife, Azza, we are proud to name this scholarship after Malek, with the hope that his dreams may one day become Tunisia’s reality.