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Bulgaria:National Qualifications Framework

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Overview Bulgaria

Contents

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:Bachelor

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

Bulgaria:Legislation

Bulgaria:Institutions

Bulgaria:Bibliography

Bulgaria:Glossary

Decision for Development 

Since 2007, measures have been taken at the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) for the development of a National Qualification Framework (NQF) in the context of the Qualification Framework of the European Higher Education Area and the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning. The Bulgarian NQF was created to be an integrated qualifications framework. The Deputy Minister of Education and Science responsible for the European Integration issues monitored the work on the elaboration of the NQF.

To this end two task forces were established by orders of the Minister of Education and Science. The first task force was composed by representatives of the Rectors’ Conference and of higher education institutions. In December 2007, the workgroup prepared a situational analysis, which was presented to Policy for Higher Education Directorate at the MES. In March 2008, the same task force elaborated a draft project of the National Qualification Framework for Higher Education in the context of the Qualification Framework of the European Higher Education Area. 

In the next year the work done by this task force was incorporated in the draft project of an integrated National Qualifications Framework in the context of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong learning. This draft project was elaborated by especially composed new (second) task force in April 2008. This task force elaborated the following documents:

  • a comparative table for referencing the national qualifications to the European Qualification Framework for Lifelong Learning; 
  • a plan for the further activity for development and linking national sectoral qualifications to the EQF; 
  • a proposal for amendments and supplements to the national legislation. 

The new Bulgarian government acting since July 2009 supported the NQF as a precondition for implementing the EQF and as such an important national priority in the field of education and training. The development of an NQF was given high priority in the Programme of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science (2009–2013). The National Qualification Framework of Republic of Bulgaria was officially adopted by Council of Ministers’ Decree No 96 dated 2 February 2012. 

The national Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria is legislatively regulated by the Pre-School and School Education Act (promulgated, State Gazette issue 79 dated 13.10.2015, in force since 1.08.2016). This Act stipulates that the NQF should be developed based on the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). It should be adopted by the Council of Ministers.  It contains the competencies as learning outcome level by level in line with the education stages and degrees. 

General Goals and Purposes

The main objective of the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria is to support the mobility of citizens by providing conditions for transparency of the education and qualifications acquired and to facilitate the recognition of non-formal and informal learning. This will improve the extent to which all target groups and stakeholders are informed about the national qualifications. It will help raise trust in education and training system and support the processes of mobility and recognition of qualifications.

This will improve the extent to which all target groups and stakeholders are informed about the existing national qualifications. It will help raise trust in education and training systems and facilitate mobility and recognition of qualifications. 
Having a single document which includes all qualifications that can be acquired in formal education and training is expected to facilitate the process of sectoral qualifications frameworks development. 

Process of Development 

In the course of development of the National Qualifications Framework, a broad range of different stakeholders and experts were involve, including experts from the Ministry of Education and Science, the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training, the National Information and Documentation centre, representatives of higher education institutions, the Rectors’ Conference, and the Bulgarian representative in the Bologna Follow-up Group, and representatives of the nationally represented organizations of employers (The Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Industrial Association, the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association, the Union of Private Economic Enterprises and the Union of Private Bulgarian Entrepreneurs “Vuzrazdane”) and of employees (The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria and the Podkrepa Trade Union Confederation). 

The draft project of the NQF was submitted for consultation to Working Group 16 ‘Education, recognition of professional qualifications, and scientific research’, which was established according to Article 7 of Council of Ministers’ decree No 85 of 2007 on coordination of the EU affairs. This working group consists of representatives of the responsible ministries and other institutions and stakeholders including social partners. A broad national consultation process was provided to discuss the NQF draft with different stakeholders. More than 60 representatives of stakeholders participated in the consultations.

The process of elaboration and discussion of the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria also involved four international experts, namely:

  • Dr. James Murray, Director of Academic Affairs of IOTI, Ireland;
  • Dr. Joachim James Calleja, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Employability, Malta;
  • Mr. Wilfried Boomgaert, Deputy Head of Horizontal Policy Directorate, Ministry of Education and Training of the Flemish Community of Belgium;
  • Dr. Maria Elisabeth Leegwater, coordinator for student issues, Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of the Netherlands (up to 2012), then a private expert.

The above mentioned experts were selected according to the following criteria:

  • Expertise and experience in different education and training sectors (general and vocational school education, vocational training and higher education);
  • Expertise and experience of leading EU Member States in implementing EQF and QFEHEA, with different education and training systems;
  • Expertise and experience of international experts in EQF/QF-EHEA, and the referencing and self-certification criteria, procedures and recommendations;
  • Long-lasting membership in the EQF Advisory Group and the Bologna Follow-up Group.

Implementation and Monitoring 

The Ministry of Education and Science has a leading role in implementation of the NQF. By Council of Ministers’ Decree No 96 of 2nd February 2012 the Minister of Education and Science was designated as a national authority in this respect.

NQF Design

The National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria covers all education and training degrees and levels in lifelong learning context, including pre-school education, school education (incl. general education and vocational education and training), and higher education. The NQF contains 9 levels in total, including preparatory (zero) level covering the pre-school education. The zero (preparatory) level comprises the system of pre-school education. The eight levels above correspond to the eight levels of the EQF. The zero level has no analogue in the EQF levels. It is included for thoroughness, in view of encompassing in the NQF of the entire education system and all qualifications in it. The levels numbered from 1 to 8 correspond to the EQF levels. The upper three levels of the NQF numbered from 6 to 8 correspond to the three cycles of the Bologna process (the degrees Bachelor, Master and Ph. D.).

The expected learning outcomes described in the NQF are generic knowledge, skills and competences, which the learners should acquire upon completion of the training process at the respective NQF level and which are a pre-requisite for further education or training aimed to acquisition of a professional qualification.  They provide a notion about what the learner knows and is able to do after completion of the training process at certain level but in view of the future professional realization. 

The learning outcomes in the NQF of Bulgaria are described in:

  • Knowledge – theoretical and/or factual;
  • Skills  − cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) and practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments);
  • Competences – personal and professional. The competences are described in terms of responsibility and autonomy and are set in four main groups:
  • Responsibility and autonomy;
  • Learning competences;
  • Communicative and social competences;
  • Professional competences.

The descriptors of the BQF levels (Table 2) conform both to those of the EQF and to the relevant QF-EHEA descriptors. The description of the competences and their grouping in four groups also complies with the Recommendation № 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18th of December 2006 on the key competences for lifelong learning.

The knowledge, skills and competences, which are defined in the Bulgarian Qualifications Framework are based on the State Educational Requirements (standards) within the national school and higher education system and correspond to the expected learning outcomes that are defined in those SERs in terms of knowledge, skills and competences.

The learning outcomes in the NQF and in the state educational requirements are closely linked to the procedures for quality assurance and the use of educational credits awarded for units of learning outcomes (where applicable).The Ministry of Education and Science is the national authority for quality assurance in school education (general and vocational education).  The National Agency for Vocational Education and Training (NAVET) is the national authority for quality assurance of vocational training. The National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency is the national authority for external quality assurance and control in higher education. The autonomous higher education institutions should describe expected learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and competences) in any description of qualification for each specialty.

Compatiblity with EQF 

The Bulgarian NQF is an integrated framework of qualifications and is in full compliance with the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area and the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning. Best-fit principle has been used in the process of referencing to the EQF aimed to demonstrate best compliance in learning outcome’s context. 

The national report on referencing the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria, which was adopted by Council of Ministers’ Decision № 96 of 2nd of February 2012 to the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning and its self-certification with the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area was elaborated in performance of item 4 of Decision № 96 of the Council of Ministers of 2 February 2012 adopting the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria.

The purpose of the national report is to present and explain in a manner transparent and comprehensible to all stakeholders how each level of National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria, which was adopted by Council of Ministers’ Decree 96 dated 2nd February 2012 corresponds to a particular level from the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning and to a level from the Qualifications Framework for the European

Higher Education Area.

Main problems/barriers to the NQF Development 

Experts encounter certain objective issues regarding NQF development, namely: 

  • To the moment he Bulgarian HE system was not LOs-oriented in sufficient degree during the recent years. The attention was drawn more towards the system input; 
  • Issues related to terminology, “customizing” the framework and applying it to specific fields of knowledge; 
  • Insufficient understanding related to the specific differences between the Bachelor and Master qualifications in certain degree within the Bulgarian society, and particularly among employers. 

Further Information 

The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria is the national competent authority responsible for the elaboration of the NQF draft project and for its referencing to the EQF and QF-EHEA. The elaboration of the NQF is a national measure set in the Action Plans for 2010 and 2011 with the measures ensuing from Bulgaria’s membership in the EU with the responsible authority being the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science and subsequently having passed on as a measure in the 2012 Action Plan. This measure was implemented with the adoption of Council of Ministers’ Decision № 96 of 02.02.2012 on the adoption of the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria. 

On the grounds of item 2 of this Decision, the Minister of Education and Science is authorized as a national competent authority for maintaining and updating of the BQF in line with the EQF for lifelong learning. Item 3 of the Decision sets 1-year deadline for alignment of the national legislation in the secondary and higher education systems with the BQF. Item 4 of the Decision sets 6-month deadline for the elaboration of the national referencing and self-certification report with respect to the EQF and the QF-EHEA. The national report is a subject of approval by the Minister of Education, Youth and Science after coordination with all stakeholders. 

The adoption of the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria puts the Bulgarian educational and training system in a stage of comparability with the educational and training systems of the other EU Member States. In particular, this is a prerequisite for better mutual recognition of qualifications between the countries. 

The National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria improves the transparency and the understanding both of the Bulgarian educational and training system, and of any particular qualification that is awarded there. It facilitates not only the recognition of diplomas, certificates and other documents for qualifications awarded abroad, but also the access to the labour market and the validation and recognition of prior learning, including non-formal and informal learning, and work-placed training. 

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) of the Republic of Bulgaria was developed in accordance with the effective national legislation in the field of education and training. It covers the whole education system of the Republic of Bulgaria in the context of lifelong learning. 

The National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria includes nine levels, including zero level. The zero (preparatory) level comprises the system of pre-school education. The eight levels above correspond to the eight levels of the EQF. The zero level has no analogue in the EQF levels. It is included for thoroughness, in view of encompassing in the NQF of the entire education system and all qualifications in it. 

The National report on Referencing and Self-Certification of the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria to the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning and its self-certification with the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area was elaborated in performance of item 4 of Decision № 96 of the Council of Ministers of 2 February 2012 adopting the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Bulgaria. The report was approved by the Minister of Education and Science on 12 March 2013. 

The main objectives of the process are clearly and accurately presented in the Report. The involvement of the national competent bodies and of stakeholders is described, and response is provided to the adopted criteria, procedures, and recommendations for referencing/self-certification to the two European qualifications frameworks. 

The necessary background is provided with a view to introducing stakeholders on a European and international level to the education and training system in Republic of Bulgaria. Special attention is drawn to quality assurance of training in the various educational sectors. This matter is reviewed in a separate chapter since it is essential to the building of mutual trust in the system. 

The main part of the report covers the responses to the referencing and self-certification criteria, procedures and recommendations with regards to the EQF and the QF-EHEA. The criteria, procedures and recommendations are systematically grouped with respect to similarity in order to avoid repetitions and to provide better understanding and single meaning answers. The greatest attention in the report is given to demonstrating the compatibility between the BQF and the EQF/QF-EHEA, the links between the BQF and the use of learning outcomes, the transparency of the processes, especially with regards to the issue on the inclusion of legislatively existing qualifications in the BQF. In relation to that, an analysis on the correspondence is made in the report, including a semantic analysis of the level descriptors and an analysis on the concordance with the respective national legislation. 

The comments, which were received from the international experts supporting Bulgaria in the referencing and self-certification process both to the EQF and to the QF-EHEA were taken into account in the national report, together with those of the stakeholders. 
It should be noted that the national competent authorities for quality assurance in the various education and training sectors took active part at all stages of the process, especially at the elaboration stage of the BQF and of the national report. 
The referencing process to the EQF and the self-certification process to the QF-EHEA in Bulgaria should be perceived as inseparable part of the work on the BQF. The work on the draft project of the national report started in the process of elaboration of the BQF. An essential element of the work on the BQF level descriptors was not only to demonstrate the correspondence with the EQF/QF-EHEA level descriptors, but also the concordance with the effective national legislation.