Key Features of the Education System
The pre-school and school education system in Bulgaria includes kindergartens, schools, personal development support centres, and specialized service units, and provides for education according to state educational standards. The institutions within the pre-school and school education system are legal entities.
The state education standards determine the levels of necessary general and vocational preparation. They relate to various elements of educational environment including educational contents, textbooks and school aids, teachers’ licensing and qualification, the assessment system, inspecting, etc.
The state pre-school education standard is a set of requirements related to learning outcomes and defines:
- fields of pre-school education;
- pre-school education objectives and educational contents by fields of pre-school education;
- requirements concerning learning outcomes for each pre-school education field in the respective age groups.
The state general education standard is a set of requirements related to learning outcomes for each general education subject at the end of each stage of the respective degree of education. It defines:
- the objectives, the contents and the specific features of general education and preparation;
- the general education subjects;
- the requirements concerning learning outcomes for each general education subject for acquisition of general education and preparation.
The state education standard for profiling preparation is a set of requirements on the learning outcomes for each profiling subject at the end of secondary education degree. It defines:
- the objectives, the contents and the specific features of profiling general education and preparation;
- the profiling general education subjects;
- the mandatory training modules for each profiling general education subject and the requirements on the learning outcomes for each and every one related to profiling preparation.
Education in Bulgaria is secular and free in state-owned and municipal schools. The right to education is implemented in line with the principles for transparent management and predictability of the education system development. Bulgarian citizens have the right to education and may enhance continuously their education and qualification. No restrictions or privileges are allowed based in race, nationality, gender, ethnic or social origin, religion or social status. Children and students with special educational needs and/or chronic diseases are taught on integrated basis in kindergartens and in schools.
Almost all kindergartens and these schools are municipal and they are funded by the municipal budgets. Their annual budget is individual – formed on the basis of the uniform standard and the number of the enrolled children.
The Primary and Basic Schools are mainly municipal – approximately 90%. They are funded individually by uniform standard on the basis of the number of the learners enrolled in the school.
The schools providing General education are mainly municipal – 90%. They are also funded by the municipal budgets individually by uniform standard on the basis of the number of the learners enrolled in the school.
The Vocational schools are mainly state-owned – approximately 90%. They are funded by the state budget through the MEYS. Their budgets are individual according to the amount of the standard and the number of the enrolled learners.
The financial autonomy is given to the schools by the financial decentralization and the so-called “delegated budgets”. The financial decentralization transfers rights and obligations that are related to the constitution and execution of a budget (delegated budgets). Schools have more operational rights in relation to budget constitution and expenditures, and execute their own impendented policies.
The position of ‘teacher’ or ‘educator’ requires a completed higher education and an education qualification degree ‘Master’, ‘Bachelor’ or ‘Specialist’ in a major from a professional direction in accordance with the Classifier of higher education and professional direction and the ‘teacher’ or ‘pedagogue’ professional qualification area.
Teacher job vacancies are announced by headmasters at labor offices, Regional Education Inspectorates and Labour Offices.
Selection procedures for teachers are decentralized. Schools bears responsibility for them, ‘open recruitment’. This approach allows teachers to choose education institutions where they can find fulfillment.
The introduction of differentiated payment for teachers’ on the basis of common for the whole country basic criteria, specified by every school depending on its peculiarity has provided opportunity for personal evaluation of the contribution of every teacher and stimulates their personal professional development along a five grade scale: Junior Teacher, Teacher and Senior Teacher.
As for higher education The Higher Education Act, the Law on Academic Staff Development in the Republic of Bulgaria and the Science and Research Degrees and Ranks Law set the conditions and requirements for the academic staff as well as the decision making bodies at national, regional and local level, covering the various academic career stages: from entry to the profession to retirement, thus covering issues like recruitment, academic staff professional status, payment and enticement, working hours and obligations, mobility, retirement etc.
The average academic staff monthly salary amounts to about 1 750 levs, varying for the different higher schools and depending on the budget of the respective higher school and its Regulations.
Stages of the Education System
Early Childhood Education and Care
Early childhood education and care is managed by local authorities, and is not part of the State’s responsibilities, between the ages of 0 – 3. Between the ages of 3 – 6/7 it becomes part of the responsibilities of the Ministry of Education and Science.
Kindergartens are institutions within the pre-school and school education system for raising, education, and socialization of children from age of 3 up to the age of 7 (entering first class) in line with the state pre-school education standard. Children aged 2 can also enter kindergarten in line with the conditions and rules of the Law on Pre-School and School Education.
Kindergartens are municipal or private. Public kindergartens can be opened as an exception to the Ministry of Defense or on the grounds of an international treaty. Kindergartens to the Ministry of defense are aimed to raising, education and socialization of children of military and civil personnel of the Ministry.
Central kindergarten is a municipal kindergarten, which is situated in the closest settlement of the municipality or a neighboring municipality, where children from the settlements with no kindergarten or a school providing mandatory pre-school education are raised, educated, and socialized.
Education and training of children in kindergartens is organized and provided in line with the Pre-school Education State Standard. School readiness is assessed at the end of pre-school education stage by comparing acquired learning outcomes with the learning outcomes described in the standards. School readiness certificate is issued.
Pre-school education is included in the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria, which was adopted by Council of Ministers’ Decision No 96/2002. In this level knowledge, skills and competences (self-dependence and responsibility, and communicative and social competences).
School education is mandatory from age of 7 on or from age of 6 according to parents’ assessment to age of 16. It provides for education and up-bringing of students according to their individual needs and in line with the requirements and expectations for a successful realization in civic society.
The school is an institution in the system of pre-school and school education, which train, educate and socialize students and provide the conditions for the completion of grade and stage and / or to acquire education. As specified in the Law on pre-school and school education cases, the school provides conditions for acquisition of a vocational qualification.
Schools may provide compulsory preschool education of children in the terms and conditions of state educational standards for pre-school education and state educational standard for physical environment and information and library provision of kindergartens, schools and centers of support for personal development.
Schools are state, municipal, private or religious. According to the type of training schools are non-specialized and specialized.
According stage or level of education non-specialized schools are:
- primary (I – IV class inclusive);
- main (I – VII class inclusive);
- schools (VIII – XII class inclusive);
- united (I – X including class);
- secondary (I – XII class inclusive).
The Republic of Bulgaria is also among the first countries which signed in 1999 in Bologna the Joint Declaration for European Higher Education Area.
The higher education governance is performed at state and institutional level. The state is responsible for the development and the implementation of a long-term national policy and establishment of conditions, which guarantee the academic autonomy of higher education institutions, the quality of education, and the provision of adequate conditions for performing scientific research.
The institutional management is performed according to the rights for an academic autonomy of the higher education institutions, but the state assists for development of modern institutional governance through distribution of resources on a competitive basis. Bulgaria works actively towards building up of a favorable environment for modernization of higher education, in line with the needs of the society and of the business. Good practices are studied and multiplied. Possibilities for introduction of new models, which are related to application of modern approaches for institutional governance leading to better financial management, are studied.
Adult education is a priority and takes many forms, ranging from formal class-based learning to self-directed and e-learning. Local authorities are responsible for framing adult education policies for their respective regions. Adult education is most often provided by Licensed Vocational Training centers, as well as Trade Unions.For a brief description of the different levels of the education system and other related topics such as teachers and special needs education, please read the Organisation and Governance and of each educational level: Early Childhood Education, Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education, Upper Secondary Education and Post Secondary Non Tertiary Education, Higher Education and Adult Education and Training
For a brief description of other main topics regarding the national education system, please read the introduction article of Funding education, Teachers and education staff, Management and other educational staff, Educational support and guidance, Quality assurance, Mobility and internationalisation
For information on recently adopted or planned reforms and policy measures, please consult topic Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments
While Eurypedia provides comprehensive and comparable information, further information may also be found on the websites of the Ministry of Education and Science, as well as that of the National Statistical Institute.