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Overview Bulgaria


Bulgaria:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Bulgaria:Historical Development

Bulgaria:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Bulgaria:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Bulgaria:Political and Economic Situation

Bulgaria:Organisation and Governance

Bulgaria:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Bulgaria:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Bulgaria:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Bulgaria:Organisation of Private Education

Bulgaria:National Qualifications Framework

Bulgaria:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Bulgaria:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Bulgaria:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Bulgaria:Funding in Education

Bulgaria:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Bulgaria:Higher Education Funding

Bulgaria:Adult Education and Training Funding

Bulgaria:Early Childhood Education and Care

Bulgaria:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Bulgaria:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Bulgaria:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

Bulgaria:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Bulgaria:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Bulgaria:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Bulgaria:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Bulgaria:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Bulgaria:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Bulgaria:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Bulgaria:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Bulgaria:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Bulgaria:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Bulgaria:Organisation of Vocational Lower Secondary Education

Bulgaria:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Lower Secondary Education

Bulgaria:Assessment in Vocational Lower Secondary Education

Bulgaria:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Bulgaria:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Bulgaria:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Bulgaria:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Bulgaria:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Bulgaria:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Bulgaria:Higher Education

Bulgaria:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Bulgaria:First Cycle Programmes


Bulgaria:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Bulgaria:Second Cycle Programmes

Bulgaria:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Bulgaria:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Bulgaria:Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Institutions Providing Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Main Programmes and Provision in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Teachers and Education Staff

Bulgaria:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Bulgaria:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Bulgaria:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Bulgaria:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Management and Other Education Staff

Bulgaria:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Bulgaria:Management Staff for Higher Education

Bulgaria:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Bulgaria:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Quality Assurance

Bulgaria:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Bulgaria:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Educational Support and Guidance

Bulgaria:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Bulgaria:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Bulgaria:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Bulgaria:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Bulgaria:Mobility and Internationalisation

Bulgaria:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Mobility in Higher Education

Bulgaria:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Bulgaria:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Bulgaria:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Bulgaria:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Bulgaria:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Bulgaria:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Bulgaria:National Reforms in School Education

Bulgaria:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Bulgaria:National Reforms in Higher Education

Bulgaria:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Bulgaria:European Perspective







The National Strategy for Lifelong Learning (NSLLL) has been adopted by Council of Ministers’ Decree No 12 dated 10th January 2014. The strategy sets out the strategic framework of the state policy in education and training during the period, which aims at achieving the European objective for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The Strategy has been elaborated in response to challenges, which on one hand have to do with our country’s need to overcome the consequences of the economic and financial crisis in Europe and worldwide, and on the other – to preserve the national identity and cultural diversity in the course of implementation of the cohesion policies.

The Strategy applies the definition of lifelong learning, as used in the EC Memorandum on LLL (2000), namely: “all purposeful learning activity, undertaken on an ongoing basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence”.

The document covers all forms of education, training, and learning – formal, non-formal, and Informal. It also provides recommendations, which would serve as basis in the preparation of annual plans, based on which progress in the implementation of LLL in Bulgaria would be traced.

The strategy describes the state of play and the challenges related to lifelong learning in Bulgaria. An analysis of the implementation of the previous national strategy for LLL for the period 2008-2013 was made. The place of Bulgaria with regards to the European headline targets and indicators laid down in the Europe 2020 strategy was described.

The strategy outlines the contents, the forms, the environment and the relationships between all the actors in the LLL process, namely learners, training providers, the employers, trade organizations, labour unions, civil society organizations, and other partners, the regions, municipalities, and local communities, government bodies.

The objectives of the Strategy are linked with the objectives of the national policy for development by 2020, namely high level of skills, opportunities for innovations, adaptability to the changes in the character of work, and full social inclusion. The Strategy was developed as an integrated strategic document covering all sectors of education and training from pre-school education via school general education and vocational education and training, higher education, continuous education and training, and validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning.

The main principles laid down in the Strategy are, as follows:

  1. Quality: transforming lifelong learning into a factor for the success and competitiveness of the citizenry, the institutions, and organizations by providing the conditions to achieve higher educational objectives;
  2. Equality and diversity: ensuring equal opportunities for all individual and collective stakeholders to exercise their rights and duties arising from their participation in various and multiple forms of lifelong learning, which take place in diverse socio-economic contexts;
  3. Decentralization: transfer of powers and resources from central government bodies and public institutions to the regional administrations, the municipalities, the setups of social partners, the non-governmental organizations, etc., and also to associations of training providers in order to ensure the access to lifelong learning activities for various target groups and specific participants;
  4. Cooperation: conduct of consultation processes at various levels, proactive dialogue and allocation of the rights, duties, and risks among all stakeholders in order to achieve the strategic objectives and priorities of the lifelong learning policy through implementation of the specific measures scheduled for the impact areas;
  5. Measurability: enhancement of the opportunities for monitoring and measuring the education objectives;
  6. Flexibility: preparedness of the stakeholders to respond, upon occurrence/ascertainment of unforeseen social and socio-economic processes, through expansion of the objectives and actions, which have been foreseen.

The Strategy defines the vision for development of education and training in Bulgaria by 2020, the strategic objectives and the indicators for monitoring of the progress.

The vision states that as at 2020 Bulgaria would be a country, where conditions have been created for full creative and professional success of the person and where the access to various and quality forms of lifelong learning has become a reality for all its citizens.

The strategic objectives and progress indicators, which have been set out in the document are, as follows:

  • Increase the share of the children covered by pre-school education and training from age 4 until first class enrolment age from 87.8% in 2012 to 90% in 2020;
  • Reduce the share of early leavers from the educational system aged 18-24 from 12.5% in 2012 to less than 11% in 2020;
  • Reduce the share of 15-year olds with poor achievements in:
  • Reading – from 39.4% in 2012 to 30% in 2020;
  • Mathematics – from 43.8% in 2012 to 35% in 2020;
  • Natural sciences – from 36.9% in 2012 to 30.0% in 2020;
  • Increase the share of those attaining professional qualification degrees in the broad areas of Informatics, Technical Equipment, Manufacturing and Processing, and Architecture and Construction to at least 60% in 2020;
  • Increase the share of those completing higher education aged 30-34 from 26.9% in 2012 to 36% in 2020;
  • Increase the employment rates of the population aged 20-64 from 63% in 2012 to 76%32 in 2020;
  • Increase the participation of the population aged 25-64 in education and training from 1.5% in 2012 to more than 5% in 2020 (a 4-week reference period);
  • Reduce the share of illiterate persons:
  • among persons aged 15-19 from 2.0% in 2011 to 1.5% in 2020;
  • among persons aged 20-29 – from 2.3% in 2011 to 1.5% in 2020

The following priorities for development are laid down in the strategy:

  • Educational approach and innovations in education and training supporting the development of all learners and contributing towards development of thinking, capable, and proactive individuals able to handle changes and uncertainty;
  • Raising the quality of education and training in the following directions:
  • Аcquisition of basic skills, which would evolve into permanently attained competences such as competences in the mother tongue to achieve functional literacy, literacy in the area of mathematics and natural sciences, technological and digital literacy, as well as foreign language communication skills;
  • Raising quality of teaching;Improving institutional governance;
  • Higher quality of training at institutional level;
  • Improving the system for financing education and training.
  • Ensuring the educational environment for equal access to lifelong learning and for active social inclusion and active citizenship.
  • Promoting education and training aligned to the needs of the economy and changes on the labour market.
The areas of impact are defined and analyzed in the Strategy. They are related to acquisition of all 8 key competences:
  • communicative competences in Bulgarian language and in foreign languages;
  • mathematics competence and basic competences in the area of natural sciences and technologies;
  • digital competence;
  • competences for learning;
  • social and civic competences;
  • proactiveness and enterprise;
  • cultural awareness and skills for expression through creativeness;
  • skills in support of sustainable development and healthy lifestyle.

The following objectives of the Strategy are laid down and based on an analysis:

  • Development of a coherent lifelong learning system providing various learning pathways;
  • Introduction and application of really working instruments for lifelong learning and their integration in a unified system;
  • Promote participation in all forms of lifelong learning: formal education, non-formal and informal learning;
  • Reduce the number of illiterate young people aged 15-19 from 2.0% in 2011 to 1.5% in 2020, among those aged 20-24 – from 2.3% in 2011 to 1.5%; and among those aged 25-29 - from 2.3% in 2011 to 1.5% in 2020.

The following activities are foreseen in the strategy aimed to meeting its strategic objectives:

  • Application of the National Qualifications Framework and elaboration of sector-specific qualifications frameworks;
  • Introduction of a system for validation of knowledge, skills, and competences attained through non-formal training and informal learning until 2018;
  • Introduction of a credits system in vocational education and training until 2016 and ensuring compatibility with the higher education credit accumulation and transfer system;
  • Development and expansion of the career guidance system and creation of conditions for formation and development of career planning skills, both in the pupils and university students, as well as in adults;
  • Expansion of the use of the European system of identification, assessment, and certification of knowledge, skills, and competences – the Europass CV and the European Skills Passport; 
  • Implementation of a system with defined characteristics for projecting the labour market’s needs for workforce;
  • Elaboration and introduction of flexible forms and paths for ensuring mobility within the education and training system, incl. encouragement of persons not covered by the conventional educational system through expansion of the learning opportunities range;
  • Elaboration and expansion of the adult literacy system for the purpose of ensuring access to the labour market;
  • Development of tools and platforms for e-training for including new target groups into learning, in particular, those with specific needs and those residing in remote locations;
  • Ensuring access to the LLL forms through cultural institutions (libraries, community centres, museums), athletic organizations, etc. focused on new target groups, in particular, those with specific needs and those residing in remote locations;
  • Implementation of measures for identification and removal of the barriers to the learning mobility, expansion of its scope, and implementation of a monitoring system;
  • Setting up partnership network among secondary schools and universities, research institutions, the businesses, and the local government, including for the setting up of learning regions;
  • Promotion of lifelong learning among all population segments as a factor for personal development, sustainable employment, and social inclusion;
  • Setting up funding mechanisms for the continuing training in support of each individual choice.

Together with the above mentioned, measures and actions at sectoral level are foreseen in the Strategy covering all sectors of education and training. Particular attention is paid to issues related to coordination, monitoring, accounting and financing.


The analysis of state of play to the Strategy covers the system for preparation and continuous qualification of pedagogical staff, the basic professional and social-demographic features of pedagogical staff for the period 2007-2013, continuous qualification and career development of pedagogical staff. Expenditure for education and training of pedagogical staff is analyzed, too.

An overview of the European policies for development of teacher’s profession is made in the Strategy, including teachers’ training, support for young pedagogical staff members, recruitment, employers, labour contracts, continuous professional development and mobility of teachers. The need for a national strategy on development of pedagogical staff is analyzed, too. The vision, principles, objectives and expected results from such a strategy are defined. Issues related to coverage, administration and financing the system are pointed out.

The strategy is in line with the requirements and the priority fields of action of the national Programme for development of the Republic of Bulgaria called “Bulgaria 2020” aimed to raise the living standard through competitive education and training, establishing conditions for quality employment, social inclusion and guaranteed accessible and quality education. The strategy is oriented towards the implementation of policies and measures for comprehensive, accessible and quality school and pre-school education. It synchronizes the policies for teachers’ and trainers’ education, continuous qualification and career development in connection to legislative, institutional and social base of the education system.

The Strategy corresponds to the wide-range measures for quality of pre-school and school education laid down in the National Programme for School and Pre-school Education Development (2006-2015), and other programme documents, too.

The Strategy takes into account the recent analyses on the levels of knowledge and skills of students (SABER 2013, TALIS, PIRLS, PISA, etc.) and sets the guidelines for development of the sector by 2020. The need for publicity of the principles, objectives, and activities of the strategy are also taken into account. Mechanisms for feedback and tuning with other strategies are designed, too.

The Strategy foresees measures for ensuring inter-sectoral and institutional cooperation, integrated approach for policy development and implementation towards education and training system advancements. It requires establishment of a mechanism for implementation, accounting, monitoring and control with participation of all responsible bodies and stakeholders.

The Strategy for development of pedagogical staff includes development of standards for knowledge, skills and competences of pedagogical staff in secondary school education preserving the Bulgarian traditions and bearing in mind the best practices of leading countries in this field.

The Strategy responds the need for continuous training and qualification of pedagogical staff in relation to constant changes at school and at the traditional out-of-school institutions with key importance for education, as family, social environment, non-formal groups, media, etc. The changes connected to social relations, social status, ethnical diversity in the Bulgarian schools, different language, behavior and style of life call for changes in the role and the competences of the teachers. Teacher’s obligations and responsibilities increase. This raises the need for continuous improvement of teachers’ qualification in education and in the particular subject-oriented area, as well as in development of ICT skills and competences linked to dynamic development of research and information environment and deepening inter-disciplinary connections.

The Strategy defines the structures and the functions, which should coordinate its activities in order to reach narrow-professional and wide-social competences of pedagogical staff. A set of measures are foreseen in the strategy aimed to up-date of teachers’ assessment and self-assessment mechanisms and the assessment of teachers’ work. Special policies and measures targeted to young pedagogical staff members are provided, too. Their goal is motivation, attracting and keeping them into this profession and provision of opportunities for career development.

The Strategy foresees the following measures:

  • Building-up a unified system for education and continuous teachers’ qualification;
  • Legislative guarantees of teachers’ rights and obligations in terms of professional development;
  • Establishment of better conditions for teachers’ professional and career development;
  • Financial and information provision of the education system;
  • Adaptive structures for governance of secondary education;
  • Equity and competitiveness of institutions providing qualification of pedagogical staff;
  • Achieving higher social and economic status of pedagogical staff.

The National Strategy for Development of Pedagogical Staff 2014-2020 introduces a model of an integrated approach and policies for raising quality of education across the country. It provides guidelines for action on national level towards meeting the objectives of Europe 2020 strategy. It is aligned with the principles of partnership, coordination, decentralization, conformity with law, and concordance.

The strategic objective of this document is that by 2020 Bulgaria should have developed effective system for education, training, continuous qualification and career development of pedagogical staff. The teacher’s profession should be regulated by state. Thus teachers’ profession should become more effective It should affirm teacher’s responsibility and prestige in the society.

The operational objectives of the Strategy are, as follows:

  • Development and affirmation of unified and non-contradiction system for education and continuous teachers’ qualification and career development;
  • Establishment of unified legislative basis for state-regulated teachers’ initial education, continuous qualification and career development;
  • Development of general and specific standards for pedagogical staff and a quality control system linked to differentiate payment and career development;
  • Development of a system of special measures targeted to attract, retain and develop both pedagogical staff members aged up to 35 and high professionals in the secondary education system. 


The Strategy on Reducing the Share of Early School Leavers (ESL) 2013-2020 is aligned with the objective of the strategic framework of Bulgaria 2020. Bulgaria 2020 is the national programme for development of the Republic of Bulgaria. It is aimed to improving the standard of life through competitive education and training, establishment of conditions for quality employment and social inclusion, and guaranteeing quality and assessable health care. Bulgaria 2020 is adopted by the Council of development to the Council of Ministers in 2011. 

The Strategy is oriented towards implementation of policies and measures aimed to meeting the target of a share of ESL less that 11%. The same target is set in the National Reforms Programme of the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2020), national target No 4.

The Strategy is in line with wide-range measures aimed to improve the assess and the quality of pre=school and school education laid down in the National Strategy on Child (2008-2018), the National Programme for Pre-School and School Education Development (2006-2015), the National Youth Strategy (2010-2020), the Strategy on Educational Integration of Children and Students from Ethnical Minority Groups developed by the Ministry of Education and Science, the National Strategy on Integration of Roma in the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2020), the Youth Act, the National Strategy on Reducing the Poverty and Promoting Social Inclusion by 2020. The Strategy is in accordance with all the 28 regional strategies on social services development (2011-2015).

The Strategy on Reducing the Share of Early School Leavers (ESL) 2013-2020 is bound to policies and measures set in key European documents and initiatives in the field of reducing ESL, for example Youth in Action, Agenda for New Skills and Jobs, and European Platform Against Poverty.

The Strategy takes into account the need for wide-spectrum of policies and measures targeted to ensure successful progression between different education degrees, flexible learning pathways for early school leavers to returning back into the education and training system and acquire key competencies, a variety of training forms, validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning.

The Strategy is fully in line with the Council Recommendation dated 28th June 2011 concerning the policies for reducing ESL (2011/C 191/01), as well as with the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training.

The Strategy expands and provides for more details in strategic and legislative context in 3 main courses of action:

  1. Prevention of ESL;
  2. Intervention of ESL;
  3. Compensation of ESL.

In the same time the Strategy requires establishment of a national horizontal coordination mechanism for implementation, reporting, monitoring and control of implemented policies, with participation of all bodies in charge and all the stakeholders.

The strategic vision is that every Bulgarian citizen is provided with an access to the education system and an opportunity for development through education, which best corresponds to his/her personal needs and provides for successful professional realization. Thus he/she contributes for development of a dynamic knowledge-based economy, social solidarity and quality of life at local and national level.

The leading principles of the Strategy are conformity with law, coherency, partnership, transparency and dissemination of measures and results, continuity, sustainability, good timing, reporting, monitoring and control, innovativeness.

The strategic objective, which is laid down in the document is provision of equal assess and support for development and inclusiveness within the pre-school and school education system of children and youth as a pre-requisite for equal social inclusion and complete personal realization, and participation in the development of the local community and the country.

The operational objectives of the Strategy are, as follows:

  1. Development, implementation and monitoring of a comprehensive policy on better coverage of learners within the education and training system based on inter-sectoral cooperation with clear distribution of responsibilities and interaction between different levels of governance;
  2. Identification of ESL-related risk factors with aim to reduce the respective consequences;
  3. Promoting inclusion in educat6ion of groups at risk and inclusive education development;
  4. Increased diversity and effectiveness of mechanisms and stimuli for inclusion in education and training;
  5. Building up wide public trust and support in relation to the policies for prevention and reduction of ESL.

The following results of the implementation of the strategy are foreseen:

  • developed inter-sectoral coordination mechanism on national, regional, and municipal level, with policies, plans, and measures based on systematic monitoring, analysis, assessment, regular reporting and transparency, counteractions, distribution of resources, investments according to the needs on the respective levels;
  • improved existing mechanisms and procedures for information flow aimed to improve the functioning of the Register of Children and Student Flow, which should allow tracking of each particular case of a child/student at risk of ESL;
  • better coverage of children and pupils in pre-school and school education through promoting enrolment and regular school attendance;
  • provision of inter-sectoral services for education and social support;
  • improved learning outcomes and provision of favourable educational support for development of every child and student;
  • match between education and training and labour market needs;

Meeting the strategic and the operational objectives of the Strategy is carrying out through:

  • Prevention aimed to prevent both the appearance of pre-requisites for early school leaving,  and limitation of ESL favourable conditions.
  • Intervention aimed to create conditions for limitation of early school leaving bearing in mind concrete threats at individual level following the principle of problem solving at lowest level.
  • Compensation aimed to support ESL to include back in education by providing them with a variety of assessable pathways to return back into the education and training system and/or to acquire a qualification.

The following key measures are laid down in the Strategy:

                         I. Preventive measures

  1. Provision of a positive educational environment – school environment, relationships, governance;
  2. Raising quality of education as a pre-requisite for personal development of every child and student and prevention of ESL;
  3. Provision of an access to education for children and students of vulnerable ethnical groups; 
  4. Access to quality education for children and students with special education needs;

                       II. Integration measures

  1. Increasing parents’ participation and engagement;
  2. Affirmation of individual and group mentoring;
  3. Provision of career guidance and consulting services;
  4. Development of models for acquisition of a vocational qualification;
  5. Support for children’ and students’ development;
  6. Implementation of early alert system;
  7. Development of interest-based activities;
  8. Support of students at risk of ESL due to financial issues;

                     III. ESL Compensatory Measures

  1. Creation of suitable conditions for re-integration of ESL back within the education and training system;
  2. Building up of a national system for validation of competencies acquired through non-formal and/or informal learning. 


The programme is based on the understanding that, the principal value of the educational system is the child (the pupil).

The aim of the programme is to formulate the national objectives for the development of school and pre-school education, as well as to outline the main steps that shall be taken to implement them. Тhe programme focuses namely on school education in the sense of a system of stages and classes within the framework of which the educative process at school (I – XII class included) is performed, while in the same time it gives an account of the relationship and significance of the pre-school upbringing and preparation.

The programme aims to accomplish a balance between the traditional merits of the Bulgarian education and the necessity for improvement, and a transparency of management, predictability of development and stability of decision within the system of school education.

Two main objectives of the educational policy can be defined in the programme, namely equal access to education and high-quality education. The programme foresees the following courses of action in order to achieve these two objectives:

      I. Orientation of school education towards provoking thinking, independence and  formation of practical skills and towards further development of the personality, through the following measures:

  • Measures to be implemented in the teaching process:
  1. Changes in the educational contents, curricula and syllabi – modernisation aimed to create pre-requisites for encouraging independent thinking and formation of practical skills in the pupils;
  2. Measures with regard to textbooks and school appliances – Elaborating on new requirements to the contents of the textbooks aimed to make textbooks more fully consistent with the educational contents, curricula and the age specifics of the pupils, and Improving the system for evaluation  and approval of textbooks;
  3. Information and communication technologies at school – provision of high speed Internet in every school, elaboration of a national education portal, elaboration of electronic teaching courses, and provision of multimedia in every Bulgarian school;
  • Measures in the educational process, which are related to the role of kindergartens in upbringing and education, ritualization of school life, active participation of pupils in various forms of Pupil Self-Government, development of extracurricular and out of school activity

   II. Development of an effective system for internal assessment by using tests on a wide scale and implementation of a national system for standardized external assessment

  III. Reduction of the number of pupils in compulsory school age not covered by the system and dropping out

The most essential part of the reform proposed by the programme is related to changes in the educational structure. The implementation of a new educational structure is of great importance for the granting of equal access to education. Its aim is to overcome the fundamental drawbacks of the current educational system – the existing inequality among pupils of different school types due to the acquiring of different general education minimum: lack of transition in the system; lack of guarantees for the fulfilment of the Constitutional requirement for compulsory education up to the age of 16, in compliance with Article 53 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria and the absence of exit from the system on completion of this age; insufficient conditions for the development of the potential of each child upon rendering an account of his interests, requirements and capacities.

The new structure should cover the following elements of change:

  • Graduationof basic education after VII grade.

At the end of this stage the pupils shall be awarded a Certificate for Basic Education Completed, which shall enable them to continue their education in the next stages in specialized high schools, vocational education schools and general education schools. On completion of basic school, the level of mastering of the general education minimum shall be examined by means of a national standardized external evaluation, which apart from being a measure of the knowledge of the pupils, shall serve for weighing their capacity with regard to entering various types of schools.

The curtailment of the level by one year and the completion of basic education in seven years instead of eight shall not bring about redistribution of the content of teaching and increasing of the workload for the pupils. It presumes a change in the state educational requirements on the specific subjects with regard to bringing to the forefront the knowledge, skills and competences which shall be acquired in the course of a seven year school education. The transfer of grade VIII into the high school level shall not affect the general logic, philosophy and structure of the curricula for grades V-VII, since grade VII is in many ways a border area – in grade VII the foundations of the course of study in natural sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) are laid and in high school the knowledge is expanded and detailed; in grade VII the cycle of systematic mastering of the accepted language norm is completed and in literature the cycle of classical education is completed and some basic concepts of the literary theory are introduced; in grade VII the foundations of the systematic course of education in mathematics are laid.

On completion of classes V, VI or VII the pupils who have difficulties in learning the content of teaching and/or are threatened by dropping out, shall be given the opportunity to be trained by professions in vocational classes for acquisition of a first degree professional qualification.

  • Division of secondary education level in two stages:
  1. First High School Stage (classes VIII-X) – the pupils shall graduate compulsory education. The idea of the compulsory education is not only to acquire a uniform general knowledge minimum, but also to acquire broader competencies as personal and professional results. This presumes changes allowing more complete coverage of the pupils at school, higher erudition, better realization and socialization. On completion of class X, the level of mastering of the general knowledge minimum shall be examined by means of a national external evaluation and the pupils shall be awarded a First Stage High School Certificate. Depending on the classes achieved in the course of the first three year high school stage, and the results of the national examination, as well as depending on their wish, they shall be able to continue education at the next educational stage in the same or another school or to leave the school system and seek realization on the labour market. Within the framework of first high school stage, the pupils shall be able to acquire first and second degree of professional qualification and shall be awarded the corresponding certificates. For the pupils leaving the general education school system after class X, short term modules have been elaborated to prepare them for finding a job.
  2. Second High School Stage (classes XI – XII) – the pupils shall build up and specialize their knowledge and skills and shall be able to prepare themselves for their education in higher schools. The stage shall be completed by taking state matriculation examinations for the acquisition of high school education. The pupils shall be awarded a Second Stage High School Certificate (for those choose not to take the state matriculation examinations) or a High School Diploma, which shall give them entitlement to continue education in higher school. Within the framework of the second high school stage, the pupils shall be entitled to acquire second or third degree of professional qualification.

Class VIII – the year of intensive foreign language and computer education and/or of vocational preparation for all pupils.

The pupils shall have equal general education preparation within the framework of class VIII education, i.e. they shall study the same general education subjects within the same number of lessons in all schools. The difference shall only be in the correlation of foreign language learning, computer training and vocational training depending on the type of the school.

The intensity of foreign language learning shall vary in the different types of schools: in specialized high schools it shall be 17 lessons a week, in the vocational high schools – 15 lessons a week and in the rest of the schools – 6 lesson a week. The difference in the number of lessons (from 15 to 17 and from 6 to 17) in vocational schools shall be used for vocational training; in general education schools – for more intensive teaching of Information Technologies and for module tuition within the subject Technologies (like management, entrepreneurship etc.); in specialized schools (Arts, Choreography, Sports) – for tuition in the corresponding profile.

The new educational structure shall have several advantages:

  • Equal treatment of graduates at the output of the basic education – all pupils graduating basic education, shall be awarded a certificate and shall proceed to the next stage of education at the same time; all pupils can graduate basic education without changing school;
  • Guaranteeing their constitutional right for compulsory education until 16 years of age and ensuring the opportunity to exit the system;
  • Acquiring the same general education minimum for all types of schools until class X;
  • Horizontal and vertical transition of the system;
  • Opportunity for quick adaptation of the professional education to the dynamics of the labour market.  
  • Preservation of the traditional for the Bulgarian education classes with intensive tuition in foreign language yielding high results.
  • Guaranteeing the opportunity for pupils with different capacities and requirements to find their place in the educational system.
  • Increasing the pupils’ motivation to stay longer in the system of school education.

 IV. Raising the prestige and social status of teachers – Enough funds and investments shall be allocated for teachers’ qualification, a model for career advancement shall be created and a new system of differentiated remuneration for work, stimulating improvement and motivation for high quality performance of duties, shall be implemented. A lasting tendency for increasing the remuneration of teachers recognizing the great social importance of their work shall be established.

   V. Optimization of the network of schools

  VI. Decentralization of the management of the system

 VII. Implementation of a financing system stimulating development

VIII. Improvement of the legal framework – a need for development and adoption of implement a new, general law which shall completely settle all fundamental relationships developing within the system of national education.

Council of Ministers’ Decision No 403 dated 19thJune 2014 concerning a proposal to the Bulgarian parliament to adopt a Strategy for Development of Higher Education in the Republic of Bulgaria for the period  2014-2020.

The draft project of the Strategy formulates priority guidelines and urgent measures aimed to accelerated modernization and internationalization of Bulgarian higher education Roadmap on future reforms has been elaborated, too. Detailed action plan for the first 3 years of the period 2014-2020 has been enclosed to the draft strategy.

The draft project of the strategy draws the pathway and the priority areas for higher education development in Bulgaria in its two dimensions:

  1. As a weal for the society and the individuals, which contributes to overall development of society and preparing students both for their professional realization and their social and civic role;
  2. As a motor for dynamic development of economy and building up knowledge-based society and technological progress.

The draft strategy draws the key priorities that the future policies and measures in the field of higher education should be aligned with during 2014-2020. Guidelines for more distant perspective have been developed with regards to certain aspects of higher education – up to 2025. 

The desired direction for development of higher education is transforming Bulgaria to a powerful and attractive regional centre of a modern higher education with European profile, attractive for students from Europe and the rest of the world.

The ruling principles, which have been followed in the course of elaboration of the strategy and its future implementation, are the following:

  • Preservation of the national tradition;
  • Inclusiveness and equity;
  • Provision of outcomes and sustainability;
  • Growth based on succession and ability for development;
  • Transparency and equitability;
  • Openness of the system towards social-economic environment.

Long-term strategic objective of the strategy is establishment of a modern, effective and continuously developing learner-centered higher education system providing for qualitative, accessible, research based and labour market oriented higher education.

The operational objectives of the draft strategy are, as follows:

  1. Improved access to higher education and increased share of higher education graduates aged 30-34 by 2020.
  2. Significant raising quality of higher education and its compatibility with the other European higher education systems aimed to occupying a merited place in the European higher education area.
  3. Development of a sustainable and effective connection between higher education institutions and labour market and reaching dynamic alignment between search and supply of higher education graduates.
  4. Promoting research activity in higher education institutions and development of innovations targeted to labour market economy.
  5. Modernization of the system for university governance; clear definition of types of higher education institutions and educational and qualification degrees in higher education.
  6. More investments in higher education and science and better effectiveness of their use through a new model for financing higher education.
  7. Overcoming the negative trends in career development of academic staff in higher education and encouraging the good university teachers.
  8. Expansion and strengthening the lifelong learning network, including through widespread implementation of various forms of electronic distant learning.

Cited documents:

Programme for the development of the education, scientific and youth activities of Bulgaria 2009-2013 

National Programme for Development of School and Pre-School Education for the period 2006-2015

National Lifelong Learning Strategy (NLLS) for the period 2008-2013

Strategy for Educational Integration of Children and Pupils from Ethnic Minorities for the period 2005-2015

National Continuing Vocational Training Strategy 2005-2010

Updated Employment Strategy for the period 2008-2013

Operative Programme for Human Resource Development 2007-2013