|As Bulgaria aligns itself for EU accession in 2007 the country’s government are working on ensuring that the children of Bulgaria have free access to a quality, well structured but open education system that will allow them to learn the skills and gain the knowledge necessary to compete equally with their European counterparts on the world business and economic stage.
Since 1989 the country has worked on reforming the entire education structure from primary through to higher education and as a direct result the quality of education available in Bulgaria today is far more sophisticated and of a much higher standard than it was only a few years ago.
If you have a family and you’re considering relocating to Bulgaria for a short or long term period it will be essential to determine your child’s rights to education in Bulgaria and to ensure your child will benefit to the full from the quality and type of education available. For those on a short term secondment to the country it may be wise to place your children in a private school for the duration of your stay in Bulgaria to prevent them having to enter a ‘foreign’ education system and undergo a period of stress and adjustment. There are a number of private English or German language schools in the country.
In terms of the status of education in Bulgaria today there has been strong and prolonged pressure placed on the government to plough the significant and required funds into education in Bulgaria to enable teachers to have access to the tools and resources they require to successfully educate the youth of the country to enable them to become competitive and to stand alongside the children of Europe to strengthen the continent’s economy and security. Currently the government spends around 3% of the country’s GDP directly on education and there is still room to improve on the actual curricula taught and to move right away from communist rhetoric!
Money, support and direct assistance has come into the country from the US and the EU and Bulgaria has introduced many reforms particularly as a result of the Bologna Process which is a Europe wide harmonisation effort designed to standardise academic degree standards and quality assurance standards throughout the EU. The higher education system in Bulgaria is now awarding graduating Bulgarians qualifications that are of the same standard as those attainable at further education establishments elsewhere in Europe.
Literacy rates in Bulgaria are high with on average 98% of girls and 99% of boys aged 15 or over completely literate. During the communist era in Bulgaria literacy was important as it enabled the communist controlled press to be easily spread throughout the country, furthermore it was a way of indoctrinating the youth in Marxist theory. Nowadays the intelligence and ability of the people means that the Bulgarians are well educated and well able to compete in the international business arena.
Basic education in Bulgaria is free, children are expected to attend school from the age of 7 to 16 but many begin earlier attending kindergarten or preschool from the age of 5. Primary school begins for children aged 7 and continues for 4 years before pupils graduate to middle school where they remain for a further 3 years. Secondary school or high school is for between 3 and 5 years and once this level of education is completed about 30% of all students go on to higher or vocational education.