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Bulgaria:Organisation of Single Structure Education

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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

Geographical  Accessibility

Schools in Bulgaria are state, municipal and private. State schools are of national importance and are funded by the state budget through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science and through other ministries and government departments. Their material facilities are public state property. These schools provide training and schooling for children and pupils from the whole country and are geographically distributed relatively evenly in the capital, the district centers and other larger or smaller towns and villages in order to cover all regions in Bulgaria.

Vocational schools, which represent a large group of the above mentioned, are located in different territorial and administrative districts and take into account the predominant occupation of the population there, the industrial production, and the supply and demand in the respective sphere. When vocational schools are relatively small in number – like those in the field of agriculture and forestry, mining, construction, tourism, and hotel keeping, they are established near the places where qualified personnel are needed and with a view to admitting and training pupils from a number of districts or larger regions. More often, schools of national importance are established in the capital and larger cities, while schools of art, sport, tourism, some special schools, etc. are located in such a way that they will admit and train pupils from all regions and will try to meet all their needs. Generally, those schools have hostels or boarding houses for pupils coming from distant settlements, and also provide their own transportation for pupils from neighboring settlements.

Municipal schools are opened up after a proposal of the municipal council and are funded by the municipality. They are established by order of the Minister of Education, Youth and Science and are geographically distributed on the whole territory of Bulgaria, in different municipalities, to conform to the number of pupils and the needs of the respective schools. Municipal schools include most of primary, basic, secondary general schools and general upper secondary schools. Those schools are the most popular ones. Primary and/or basic schools are established in each settlement in Bulgaria provided that the number of schoolchildren is sufficient to meet the requirements. Such schools  are easily accessible to all schoolchildren. Unfortunately, in recent decades – mainly for demographic reasons and due to a reduction in the number of children and pupils in small settlements, there is a growing tendency towards closing down schools when they do not meet the requirements for the number of children in classes and schools. Although the bottom limit of the required number of pupils is quite low, there are settlements where these requirements cannot be met and such schools and/or classes are closed down by decision of the municipality and order of the Minister of Education, Youth and Science.

For children in settlements where a school is closed down, free of charge transport is provided by the  municipality to the school they attend, most often one of the so called ‘central schools’. Free transport and/or boarding school education in a local school within the closest proximity on the territory of the same municipality is provided to pupils up to 16 years of age who come from towns and villages that do not have a proper school.

It is recognized that on the one hand maintaining too many schools leads to inefficient expenses and slows down investments in the improvement of the quality of education and that the rationalisation of the school network is brought about by the worsened demographic characteristics of the country and the decrease in the number of school-age pupils. On the other hand, however, closing schools down leads to other objective problems – during the winter months some villages, especially those in the mountainous regions, are cut off and inaccessible by inter-settlement transport, which prevents children from attending school in another village or town; the rationalisation of the school network affects mainly primary and basic schools, for children between the age of 6/7 and 15 and especially for the younger pupils it is highly unfavorable to travel to distant places daily; the closing down of a school leads to depopulation of the place and migration to bigger settlements. That is why in some far off or difficult to access areas there are protected schools, which despite not meeting the requirements for a school to be in operation are not closed down but receive additional funding from the budget to help them function.

Admission Requirements and Choice of School

Students start school on completing 7 years of age, after a compulsory year of pre-schooling, at a school chosen by the parents. Children can be enrolled in 1st grade at the age of 6 if their physical and mental development allows according to their parents and guardians. There are no specific admission requirements for basic schools, besides schools with special programs and schools for gifted children, where pupils are admitted after an aptitude exam.

The right to choose a school allows pupils to apply for and attend schools of high prestige, good quality of instruction, interesting and diverse activities; thus meeting their interests and needs.

Enrollment in certain schools (specialized – foreign-language schools, schools of natural sciences and mathematics, sports, arts, vocational schools, etc.) is done after students sit for a competitive examination.

On graduating successfully from a primary school students can go on with their lower secondary education generally only with their 4th grade certificate.

Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils

Basic single structure education is comprised of primary (1st to 4th grade) and lower secondary (5th to 8th grade) education. School education is organised in consecutive grades of students at the same age (besides some exceptions like students repeating the grade, for example).

Students belonging to one and the same grade are divided into groups or classes. According to the specific features of the studied subject the class can be divided into sub-groups, joint groups can be formed from different classes, or individual instruction can be organized.

The school can organize joint groups in free elective subjects or for activities related to meeting the interests, abilities and needs of pupils in the fields of sport, science, technology, arts or recreation.

Such groups can consist of pupils from different grades and include pupils from other schools as well. The number of pupils in a class, the division of classes into groups and individual instruction are defined by ordinance of the Minister of Education, Youth and Science stipulating that the number of pupils in one class from 1st to 4th  grade can be from 16 to 22, and of pupils from 5th to 8th grade – from 18 to 26. Up to five children with chronic diseases and/or special education needs can be enrolled in state and municipal schools.

Organisation of the School Year

School education is organized in school years, school terms, school weeks, school days and school hours.

The duration of a school year is 31 school weeks for 1st grade, 32 school weeks for 2nd to 4th grade, and 34 school weeks for 5th to 8th grade. The school year is divided in two school terms. The duration of the first school term is about 18 school weeks.

The school year begins on 15th September and finishes on 24th May for 1st grade, on 30th May for grades 2nd to 4th, and on 15th June for 5th to 8th grades.

During the school year pupils take a Christmas, interterm, spring, Easter and summer holidays. Firstgrade pupils have three additional days for recreation during the first school term. The duration of holidays (summer holidays excluded), as well as the days for recreation of first-class pupils and other non-attendance days, is specified by an order of the Minister of Education, Youth and Science every year before 1st September.

The school year at extracurricular teaching establishments begins on 1 October and finishes on 31 August; and activities involving children are organized during the summer holidays as well.

Organisation of the School Day and Week

A school week lasts 5 days. Exceptions are permitted only if envisaged in the curriculum.The number of compulsory school hours per week may not exceed:

22 school hours for grades 1 and 2;

25 school hours for grades 3 and 4;

30 school hours for grades 5 to 8;

22 school hours in the evening form of instruction.

The weekly timetable includes 1 extra hour for class group work during which students and their teacher-councilor discuss issues of importance to students, organize various activities, etc. The weekly timetable is suited to the psychological and physical characteristics and abilities of pupils. It is developed in compliance with the requirements set by an ordinance of the Minister of Health. Week and day programmes are drawn by the school and approved by the school head. 

The organization of education can be half-day or whole-day and includes 4 to 7 compulsory school hours. With a whole-day education structure compulsory school hours can be coupled with self-study, activities according to pupils’ interests. When the organization is half-day, lessons can be organized in two shifts. 1st grade pupils have classes in the morning only.

The duration of a school hour is 35 minutes for 1st and 2nd grades, 40 minutes for 3rd and 4th grades and 45 minutes for grades 5th to 8th. Breaks between school hours last between 10 to 30 minutes.

When education is organized in two shifts, the duration of the school hour in grades 5th to 8th may be 40 minutes with permission from the head of the Regional Inspectorate of Education.

As of 2010/2011 all 1st graders are guaranteed whole-day education, which gradually will cover all primary school students.

There is a lunch break only for full-day time organization. Lunch may be provided at the pupils’ canteen for a certain fee after morning lessons for the first shift and before afternoon lessons for the second shift. The number of school hours per day may vary, but there is no specified distinction in the organization of the different days of the week.

Morning lessons most often start at 7:30 or 8 o’clock.

Legislative Reforms

A new Law on School Education is currently in the making and expected to be finished by 2017 the latest.