The ENS is the oldest institution and the first nucleus for modern teaching at university in independent Tunisia. The ENS opened in October 1956. The official text for its creation dating back to the 13th of September 1958, assigned to it the mission of ensuring the instruction of teachers, senior executives and top – ranking researchers whom the country greatly needed.
The history of the ENS can be summed up in four major stages:
First stage (1956 – 1973): the school had gone through a thorough autonomy phase during which it was gaining ground (1956 – 1959), then it had known an integration phase ensuing the creation of both the faculty of arts and the faculty of sciences beginning fro; 1960. During this second phase, students were admitted on contest file, they followed the same syllabus as the students at corresponding faculty, but benefited also from complementary courses particular to the ENS. Many teachers, researchers and government senior – executives were formed at the ENS.
Second stage (1973 – 1982): the school acquired its own premises, in 43 La Liberté Street, Bouchoucha, the Bardo. It also obtained a special status which entitled it to dispense full higher – education syllabi and degrees (from first year to graduation year). This phase allowed in its turn the education of an important number of researchers as well as senior – executives who used to occupy or are still occupying posts in secondary education and at university. Besides, other sectors such as administration, magistrature and banking have profited from the instruction dispensed by the school.
Third stage (1982 – 1991): the ENS is divided into two institutions. Arts and human sciences were delocalized to Sousse where was created an autonomous school called the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Sousse. As for the scientific branches they settled in Bizerta where an other autonomous school had been created, called the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Bizerte. Students were admitted to the ENS after having succeeded in the Baccalaureate exam. A period of six – year eclipse followed.
Fourth stage (1997 onwards): a new ENS is born enriched by the introduction of considerable improvements and advantages. From the previous stages, the principle of common courses to the ENS students and students at faculty, as well as that of contest entry were retained. The new thing resides in the fact that students sit for the entrance exam after having accomplished successfully their first cycle studies. The idea is to recruit the best qualified students. This is an important innovation since it consolidates the position of the institution as a pole of excellence in Tunisian higher – education.