|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
P a r t O n e: Descriptive Section
GOALS, LEGISLATIVE AND OTHER CONDITIONS FOR EDUCATION FOR ALL
HISTORICAL TRADITIONS IN EDUCATION
In a history of more than 1,300 years Bulgarian people have created sustainable educational traditions of intransient significance. The nation kept and developed its Slavic letter, created as far back as the 9th century by the brothers Cyril and Methodius. Further, it reached the "Golden Age of Bulgarian Literature and Culture" (the 10th Century) and saved its love for knowledge and education in the long years of the Ottoman rule. First public schools were established during the 30s-40s of the last century and were supported by patriotic Bulgarians and the studious population. Back in the years of slavery, these schools created conditions for a modern for that time European education. The Bulgarian national Revival unfolded as a movement towards education and affiliation of Bulgarians with the European and Christian civilization. Following the Liberation from Ottoman rule, education reached the Western European level in a short period of time.
Public Education system was established after 1878. Since that time dates the first Popular Education Act. This law promotes progressive principles of great value, such as the public character of education, the accessibility and the right to education for all children, irrespective of gender, age, nationality, religion, etc., free, secular and compulsory primary education for all. These principles were affirmed in the Constitution of the Bulgarian Kingdom, known as the Turnovo Constitution. They have been preserved and further elaborated in the following years and decades up to the present day. Of specific importance is the Popular Education Act (1909) during the service of Minister N. Mushanov. It remained effective for a long period of time and affirmed the West-European character of Bulgarian education system. Pursuant to the Act from 1921 under Minister St. Omarchevski, the duration of compulsory education increased and included the whole course of basic education; later, under the Constitution of Bulgaria of 1948, the education of children up to the age of 16 became compulsory. The 30s and 40s represent a period of stabilization of the education system, of the implementation of compulsory basic education, and expansion of the secondary general and vocational education.
Education during the period 1944 through 1989 is characterized by a strong centralization and introduction of ideology.
There are positive elements in this period worth noting: secondary education both general and vocational, became mass education; a great number of new schools were opened; a number of the democratic traditions in the management of the education were preserved, the role of Pedagogic Council increased, the participation of the public in school activities was restored, etc.
Negative impact on the system had the strict regulation of the activities in schools. Teachers lacked the independence needed for their work. The profession of the teacher was not prestigious and many able people abandoned it. In this process of re-assessment, it should be noted that the constant changes made at the managerial levels and structures, the attempts for an educational reform through concepts - highly ideological, incomplete, insufficiently deliberated and eclectic nature, as well as the mechanical and limited inclusion of the public in the management of education, mainly as operators, were scientifically unfounded. Ultimately, this lead in essence to a quasi-democracy, social energy and intellectual potential waste.
Bulgarians historically and traditionally view education as an achievement of distinct social value and work hard to make it available for all children. Such phenomena, as pupils not enrolled or drop-outs, were quite limited (not more than 1-2 per cent of the pupil cohort). Throughout its history, Bulgarian educational system is characterized by progress and advancement, stability, high inclusion of children, good quality of education and good conduct of pupils. Keen national conscience sense relates with the spiritual enrichment and prosperity of the people.
1. GOALS AND PURPOSES OF EDUCATION FOR ALL
We live in dynamic time of thorough, universal re-assessment, re-consideration, and reforming of the public practices in all spheres of life, a time of transition to a new social and economic system, a time, when the personality becomes the main focus. The mission of the modern school for further social reforms is highly responsible. This is precisely why the transformation of the educational system is attributed priority. In addition, in the current international context, education is not viewed merely as a factor of enhancing economic growth by ensuring labor force. As was emphasized in the report for UNESCO of the International Commission in Education of the XXI Century, chaired by Jacque De Lore, having in mind the broader perspective of human development, education has an objective much more important than that to provide working force for the economic system: it should serve for the constant development of men and society.
The number of questions pending, related to education as basic social and cultural characteristics of the nation. The answers are sought in the innovation, democratization, and humanization of the system.
The overall policy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the field of education complies with the Declaration and the Plan for Action, adopted by the World Conference on Education for All.
During the hard period of transition, a present-day problem remains care for the young children and the activities related to their development; ensuring access to general (basic) education for all; improvement of learning conditions; maintaining a high rate of literacy and a system for the education of adults; expansion of basic education by other essential skills, specifically needed by youth and adults currently and in the immediate future (computer and information technologies, foreign languages, civil education) etc.
Goals of education that are characteristics of the strategies for its development and anticipated results as per levels of schooling and uponcompletion of secondary education
These goals are outlined in basic regulations and provisions of the education system and refer to the education of all children and pupils in the Republic of Bulgaria.
The Public Education Act (10) stipulates that schools, through general education and vocational training, based on state educational criteria, shall create conditions for: (Art. 15)
- the formation of a free, moral and innovative person, who respects the laws, the rights of other people, their culture, language and religion;
- meeting the individual interests and needs and acquiring a broad general culture;
- mastering of basic scientific notions and principles for the integration of past experience with new knowledge of various fields of science and practices;
- choice of modes for instruction and professional qualification in accordance with the potential of the pupils and the selected school;
- development of material, cultural and environmental conditions in kindergartens, schools and servicing units.
The Regulations on the Implementation of the Public Education Act, published in the Az Buki Newspaper of August 11, 1999 (25) the goals of the educational system, which lay the fundamentals for continous education of the citizens, are specified and enriched. They include:
* mastering general fundamentals and objective law of human knowledge;
* mastering universal national values, virtues and culture;
* development of individuality and encouraging creativity talent;
* intellectual, physical and social development and healthy lifestyle;
* completion of educational levels, as defined by Public Education Act, and acquiring vocational skills.
The basic goals of general education are determined also in the Level of Education, General Education Minimum and Curriculum Act (11, Art. 9). They are as follows:
To assist the physical and intellectual development of the pupil, his successful orientation, adaptation and realization in society;
To create conditions for the formation of values which relate to his feeling for Bulgarian national identity, respect for other persons, sympathy and civic responsibility;
To create conditions for the development of needs, interests and aptitude for education and training as well as self-perfection throughout ones lifetime;
As it can be seen, educational goals point at mastering of a definite range of knowledge, skills and competence by pupils during the course of study, at developing their abilities, the formation of their values and their joining the system of universal and national virtues.
A National Program for the Education of Adults has also been adopted (23), its main objective being the formation of a National System. The basic goals of the Program are the following:
- Adjusting the education for adults to the social and economic reforms in the country;
- Improving the access of adults to various types of education and training;
- Elaboration of the needed legal provisions;
- Integration and coordination of activities of institutions, related to the education for adults at national, regional and local levels;
- Close cooperation with the social partners during the implementation of the National Program;
- The creation of a professional qualification certifying system and its harmonization with the European requirements;
Thus, all forms of education, addressing the basic learning needs of children, youth and adults, are covered.
2. LEGISLATION, STRATEGIES, PLANS OF ACTION
In the Republic of Bulgaria the period after 1990 is characterized by significant changes: social, as well as educational. Priorities and values in the educational system are reconsidered. In support of this process, the World Conference adopted the World Declaration and the Program on Education for All. This period coincides with the announcement of 1990 as an International Literacy Year by the General Assembly of the United Nations. UNESCO joined in and formulated its fundamental purposes as follows: through its activities to draw the attention of the world public to the seriousness of the problem and to urge governments of all states to identify their priorities in favor of education. Bulgaria responded actively with a number of practical actions.
In connection with the International Literacy Year 1990, the Ministry of Public Education established a National Committee, which included representatives of various factors of social environment. The Committee formulated the following goals: to direct and unite public effort on the issues of literacy; coordinate, encourage, support and render assistance for their solution and publicize the results of the activities in this sphere.
The National Committee, with the participation of related cultural, scientific, and other institutions, has also elaborated a respective National Program, which offers broad possibilities for creative interpretation of the included tasks, activities and initiatives. The basic directions are several: scientific research on the problems of reforming the Bulgarian education (improvement of the school documentation on literacy, search of more efficient methods for the education of children in primary grades); activities aiming at the improvement of education to prevent functional illiteracy; publishing activities, etc. The Program serves also as an orientation and a starting point for a number of additional various initiatives linked to the International Literacy Year.
The Bulgarian Program has been presented at the 25th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO and distributed among the European countries through the Council of Europe. More significant events during the Year of Literacy included: the preparation of reference bibliography and annotation book on the problems of literacy of young pupils; publishing collections of papers of scientific and practical character; the announcement by the Ministry of Public Education of a competition for a new instruction material "Childrens World"; the introduction of new instruction materials in mother tongue; the elaboration of a new literacy set which offers new technology in teaching reading and writing, etc.
The National Committee, bearing in mind that:
- only highly educated people shall participate adequately in public life;
- the existence of functional illiteracy, irrespective of its forms and level of disclosure, is a phenomenon incompatible with the scientific and technical progress; appeals to the entire cultural society to unite around the noble ideas of the International Literacy Year and the Decisions of the World Conference on Education for All, and, based on the rich historical traditions, to work for the intellectual success and economic prosperity of the Bulgarian nation.
Basic prerequisite for the successful implementation of the goals of the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien was the establishment of new legislation to comply with the international legal norms and the conditions of transition to a new social and economic system.
In 1991 the Grand National Assembly adopted the new Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, promulgated in State Gazette, issue 56 of 13 July 1991. It includes texts, which show the care of society and the state to ensure education for all. The right to education of each and every citizen is affirmed (Art. 53 (1)), the education for all children under the age of 16 is compulsory, as well as the right to free elementary and secondary education (Art. 53, (2,3)). These texts underlie the new school legislation.
The new Public Education Act was elaborated and adopted by the National Assembly in 1991. (10) The law affirms the democratic nature of the changes in society and the education system, the democratic principles of its functioning, the decentralization of its management and the expansion of the autonomy in schools. The right to education and constant increase of education and qualification is guaranteed (Art. 4 (1)). No restrictions or privileges based on race, nationality, gender, ethnical or social origin, faith and social status are adimissible.
The Public Education Act (1991), based on both traditions and modern conditions, gives solutions to basic issues of the education system:
* Art. 5 reads that the education shall be secular;
* Education shall be free in public and municipal schools (Art. 6) irrespective of the age of pupils. In the compulsory school age they shall receive free textbooks once annually;
* Until the age of 16 school education is compulsory (Art. 7 (1)).
Those who fail or do not wish to continue their education, in their compulsory school age or after its completion, are given the opportunity to receive a professional qualification for professions, which require completion of elementary education. Pupils of this age may wish to pursue alternative forms of training, such as correspondence, independent, individual, but under certain conditions.
* School begins at the age of six or seven depending on the choice of parents or guardians (Art. 7 (2));
* The official language in schools and kindergartens is Bulgarian. For pupils, for whom Bulgarian is not the mother tongue, conditions for study of their mother tongue, in addition to Bulgarian, are secured in the municipal schools, under the protection and control of the state (Art. 8, (1.2)).
* Citizens are entitled to select the school and the type of training according to their personal preferences and means. The Public Education Act ensures conditions and guarantees equal rights for all children to receive education and provides possibilities for their further development and accomplishment of a high level of knowledge in the system of the secondary education.
* Schools and Kindergartens are public, municipal and private (Art. 10 (1)). A particular importance has been attributed to municipal schools, which are the prevalent type of schools. The greater number of general education schools refers to them they are primary, basic, and secondary education schools.
The system of private schooling has been restored as an alternative to the public one. It is controlled at the "entrance" (by approving the opening of the school) and at the "exit" (by permitting the issuance of a state certificate for successfully completed education).
* Public and municipal schools, kindergartens, as well as the servicing units, are legal entities. According to the law, they are entitled to this right as of the time of the issuance of the order for their opening.
* The school and the kindergarten create conditions for the normal physical and psychological development of children and pupils (Art. 14). This excludes admission of physical punishments or abuse of children and pupils in school. Their rights to personal dignity, protection and care for their health and development are guaranteed.
The Public Education Act indicates that education is carried out according to established state educational requirements (Art. 16). These requirements comprise the study content, the type of school, the grading system, the documentation of education, the textbooks, out-of-class and out-of-school activities, material, cultural and environmental conditions, medical care and medical and hygiene education rendered in schools and kindergartens.
Public education structure pursuant to the Public Education Act, adopted in 1991, includes the following educational levels:
Primary education (four years);
Lower secondary education (four years beyond primary);
Secondary education (four - five years beyond lower secondary);
College education (three years beyond secondary);
Higher education (four-five years beyond secondary, or two-three years beyond college);
Education in schools is general and professional(Art. 22).
Professional education is acquired following the completion of primary, simultaneously with or after the completion of basic or secondary education. It ensures the acquiring of a professional qualification for performance of over 250 professions.
In compulsory school age pupils attend school during the day. Persons beyond this age (16 years of age) have the right to study in night, external, correspondent, and independent types of study.
Upon the completion of the levels of education are issued respective documents: upon completion of primary school - a certificate; upon completion of basic school a certificate; and upon completion of secondary school a diploma.
There are different types of schools, depending on the type and level of education: primary from grade I through grade IV; lower secondary - from grade V through grade VIII; basic - I through VIII grade; vocational for pupils beyond the age of 13 who have completed primary or basic education to acquire relevant profession or skills; high schools from grade IX through grade XI, XII or XIII, secondary from the first grade (I) through the last grade (XI, XII or XIII) and vocational high schools from grade IX through the last grade (XI,XII or XIII) (Art. 26 (1)) .
Transition from one type of school to another is possible pursuant to public requirements on education.
To ensure education for all children suffering from chronic diseases and for disabled children, special schools and servicing units have been established (Art. 27 (1)). The prevailing part is the boarding-house type of schools, where pupils are taken great care of. They function with relieved standards for the number of pupils in a class. Admittance in these schools is carried out according to the procedure, defined by the Ministry of Public Education, coordinated with the competent state authorities and municipal councils.
For the imprisoned with incomplete secondary education schools are set up to conduct relevant education.
Religious institutions are also entitled to open schools with the permission of the Minister of Public Education. Theological education corresponds to the secular education of the Ministry of Public Education, provided that the state general standards are complied with (Art. 30, (1,2)).
The Act envisages that the practical training for acquiring skills in harmful and hazardous working conditions start after the age of 15 (Art. 32, (2)).
In correspondence with the interests and abilities of children and pupils, they can be engaged in free time activities in the schools and the servicing units in the spheres of art, science, technique, production, and sports. All of these special conditions, provided for in the Public Education Act, aim to satisfy to a great extent the interests, needs and abilities of students. Each and every child shall study and develop his/her potential in the desired school.
The managing structure of education is simplified. The management is decentralized whereas the functions of the Ministry of Public Education are defined and reduced. The Public Education Act assigns mostly servicing functions to the municipalities, and school and kindergarten principals are selected by a competition. The principals of public schools are assigned by the Minister of Public Education; of the municipal schools by the Heads of the Education Inspectorates, and of the kindergartens by the municipality Mayor (Art. 37, (5,6)). The decisions of the principals of public schools can be revoked only by the Minister of Public Education, and those of the principals of municipal schools by the Heads of the Education Inspectorates. This affirms the expanded administrative and managerial autonomy of the school principals.
The Public Education Act determines the functions of the Pedagogic Council. It is a specialized body for discussing and solving basic pedagogical problems.
Important is the role of the teacher and his functions. He is assigned by the school principal. His rights and liberty in teaching are increased considerably. The Act envisages providing conditions for his further training. Labour legal relations with teachers are arranged in accordance with the Labor Code.
Education of teachers in the Republic of Bulgaria is conducted by the higher education system. For the increase of their qualification responsible are the higher education schools and three institutes specifically founded for this purpose (Institute of Improvement Qualification of Teachers).
The Public Education Act (10), and especially the Regulations on its implementation (26), envisage a considerable increase of student rights. The student has the right to:
- select his school, profile of study, subjects and activities defined as free choice of the student;
- to participate as he deems necessary in out-of-class and/or out-of-school activities, organized by the school;
- to receive from the teachers information on matters related to his education;
- to receive from the teachers and other officials information and advice on matters related to his professional orientation, as well to the organization of his independent studies;
- to receive from the teachers and other officials individual information and advice in relation to his specific needs;
- to be granted protection by the school, the servicing unit, the Education Inspectorate, and the Ministry of Public Education in case of offence of his personal dignity and/or violation of his human rights;
- to express his opinion and make suggestions to the management related to the organization of the activities of the school and its entire performance;
- to be guided, encouraged and assisted in the development of his talents, mental and physical abilities;
- to use for free all of the school facilities and equipment to further the development of his interests and abilities according to the procedure, determined by the school principal.
- to elect and be elected as a member of the collective school management body;
- to be encouraged by moral awards and cash remuneration for high achievements in school;
- to receive scholarship according to the terms and procedures, determined by a specific act of the Council of Ministers (Rules for the Implementation of the Public Education Act. (Art. 134, (1)).
The student has no right to:
- to be absent from school without valid reason;
- participate in gambling, to smoke, to use narcotic drugs and liquor;
- be affiliated with political parties and organizations before reaching the age of 18 years;
- to harm by his conduct the image and dignity of the teacher;
- to obstruct the teacher upon and in connection with the exercising of his official duties (Public Education Act, Art. 134 (2)).
The student is also obliged to fulfill his educational responsibilities, to abide by the rules of the school, the rules of conduct in school and society, and the laws of the country, to preserve and develop the traditions of the school (Art. 135). For violation of these obligations sanctions are envisaged (Art. 139).
The new school legislation placed the student in a new position he became an active part in education activities. He is taken care of to feel comfortable (in an organizational, psychological and living standard aspect) in school and be able to work on his education and development. These conditions preset the solution of the problems of education for all.
Municipalities are entrusted the task to exercise control on the compulsory education and to prevent cases of not enrolled or drop-out students. (Art. 36 (1) Public Education Act).
Parents and guardians, who do not ensure the presence of their children during the time for compulsory education, shall be subjected to punitive sanctions pursuant to the Public Education Act, imposed by the relevant administrative organs according to Administrative Violations and Punishments Act. These measures also relate to education for all and the overall enrollment of school-age children.
Specific part in the Public Education Act is devoted to the funding of the activities in education. In addition to funds allocated from the state budget through the Ministry of Public Education and other ministries and institutions, funds are also allocated from the local budgets through the municipal councils. (Art. 41)
The Ministry of Public Education is envisaged to determine the annual allowance of every student, based on the state education requirements, and differentiated according to the level of education, the type of school, and living conditions in the region (Art. 42(1)). The budget of the entire education and of each school is determined by multiplying this figure by the number of the students. (Unfortunately, so far the budget is not determined in this way.)
The adoption of the Public Education Act in 1991 and the following regulations creates a solid foundation for the normal development and functioning of education. Its significance for the organization and functioning of the education system, one of the most important areas of social activities, is indisputable.
The so-called White Book on Bulgarian Education and Science was elaborated and published in 1992 (20). It contains an analysis of the situation, basic results, understandings about the trends and the phases of the reform, specific programs and legislation initiatives. It suggests different approaches to education: overcoming of excessive centralization, reduction of direct and indirect state involvement in education, and transfer of rights and responsibilities from the central institution - the Ministry of Education and Science, to regional and local management institutions, and to municipalities and schools.
The White book was elaborated during the period 1990-1992. It is based on the Public Education Act and contains issues that are of great importance to the education system. It provides a review of the democratic principles of compulsory and free education, and the secular nature of education, provided for in the Public Education Act.
The rights of the school institution as a legal entity, the Pedagogic Council as a specialized professional school management body, and the School Council as a consultative body that includes teachers, parents, public and students, are affirmed.
Pursuant to the legal acts, new features are added and the learning material is divided into three basic blocks: Block A general compulsory training, Block B compulsory optional training and Block C optional training. This creates conditions for differentiation of the training and gives the student the right of choice in accordance with his interests and needs. The new changes correspond to a greater extent to the interests, needs and abilities of the students, they make education and the training material easier to access and assimilate, and are directed towards the humanization and democratization of education, which facilitates the solution of the problems of education for all.
In addition to the above issues of school education, due attention has been paid to the problems of higher education, science, information provision, funding of education and science, international cooperation, legal acts (as of May 31, 1992).
In 1994 was established a new professional orientation system, which activities were defined later in the Professional Education Act.
At the end of the decade, the legislation process in education has intensified. New acts are being elaborated and the effective ones are being amended.
In 1998 the National Assembly adopted the Act Amending the Public Education Act of 1991 (promulgated in State Gazette, issue 36 of March 31, 1998). More essential are the changes, referring to the school entry age (school education is to be started at the age of 7, completed during the year of entry in first primary grade, and at the age of 6, according to the choice of parents); opening, transformation and closing of private sch ools and kindergartens; elaboration of a procedure for the approval of state education requirements, problems referring to improving the management of education, etc. Two levels of education are introduced: basic and secondary education. Basic education comprises of two stages primary (I-IV grades) and lower secondary (V-VIII grades). Secondary education consists of four years. (scheme 4+4+4 applies) (See chart No. 1)
In the process of implementation of the Public Education Act, as a part of the new legal acts, providing for the development of the educational system, the National Assembly adopted the Level of Education, General Education Minimum and Curriculum Act. (State Gazette, issue 67 of July 27, 1999). The Act underwent extensive discussions, organized by the Education Inspectorates in the country, scientific communities and creative unions, syndicates, etc. The objective of the Act is to implement a common minimum of education for all students that shall guarantee equivalence of the documents for completed grade, stage and degree, as well as possibilities to move from one type of school to another. Training is designated to satisfy the interests and individual abilities of students. Two public general education requirements will be elaborated on the basis of the document: study content and grading system requirements.
The Act regulates in greater detail the education degrees of basic and secondary school: education offered, completion, documents issued.
The goals and purposes of general education for all students are defined. It is envisaged that subjects from 8 cultural and educational areas shall be included in the training: Bulgarian language and literature, Foreign languages, Mathematics, Computer Science and Information Technology, Public Science and Civil Education, Natural Science and Ecology, Arts, Living Standards and Technology, and Physical Culture and Sports. Conditions exist for teachers and students to choose among subjects within the educational plan.
In its part on educational plan, the Act envisages three types of training: compulsory, compulsory optional, and optional, whereas the ratio between the compulsory and optional parts is defined, as well as the maximum number of hours for compulsory training in general education levels and stages.
The Act ensures conditions for the improvement of the general education training of the Bulgarian student.
For the first time was elaborated, widely discussed and adopted a Vocational Education and Training Act (promulgated in State Gazette issue 68 of July 30, 1999) (12). This Act aims at accomplishing strict legal regulation of vocational education and training in schools and out-of school structures. Responsibilities of institutions, related to vocational education and training, which activities are coordinated by the National Agency at the Council of Ministers, are defined. A variety of national programs is proposed, thus allowing people of different age groups and levels of education to acquire professional skills. Six programs are proposed, in different combinations depending on the age and level of education of the trained cohort. Thus, the vocational training for all persons who are at least at the age of 13 and have completed minimum the sixth grade of the general education school, is guaranteed. There are five kinds of programs for acquiring initial vocational qualification: first, second, third and fourth levels, or for acquiring only a part of a profession. The sixth kind of training are programs for constant vocational training for updating and expansion of previously acquired skills. An efficient system for quality control of vocational training and for certification of vocational qualifications, pursuant to the National standards, is to be established. Regulated are the activities in vocational guidance, its system includes Information and Vocational Guidance Centers as specialized units for provision of information and methodology to the system at the regional level. The Centers organize, coordinate and implement the activities on vocational guidance in the different regions.
A Bill of the Boards of Schools Trustees (1999) is currently under discussion in the National Assembly. It will provide for selection, structure, functions and activities of the Boards of Schools Trustees as a part of civil society. The purpose is to restore the old Bulgarian tradition the participation of the society in solving school, education and students behavior problems.
National educational strategy for information and communications technologies has been elaborated accompanied by a six-year program for its implementation. The basic ideas of this strategy are also underlying in the National Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria for the information society development, in the section "Investments for the Future".
The public need for adults education and training is increasing rapidly. This need is considered to be an essential condition for the survival of mankind. (23, p. 3)
Adults pursue education for various reasons: to improve their competence in their work, in the quality of their personal life, in the organization of their free time, etc. They undergo training at home, fields, educational institutions and communities they belong.
Having in mind the national borders and priorities for the development of the adults educational system, the universal European trends and national traditions, we have defined several goals of particular importance:
development of the adults education in the conditions of democratic transition through encouraging local communities, through affirming peace culture and relations, dialogue and respect of human rights;
ensuring an "equal access" to various forms of training for all according to their abilities and desires irrespective of gender, ethnical origin and religion;
development of the system structure; improvement of the links and prospects of interaction among the units, in which the education for adults takes place throughout their entire life; considering the changes and needs of the labor market, the technologies development and the cultural policy;
provision of financing and improvement of the conditions for professional development and qualification increase of the lecturers;
The concept of continuing education is the key to the 21st century. This concept exceeds the traditional division between the basic education and continuing education and it is related to another concept the concept of the educating society where everything is focused on providing opportunities for training and realization of the human potential. (35, p. 109)
In view of this, science in Bulgaria faces many complicated questions, which constitute a part of the difficult problems of our society. They were discussed at the Seventh Congress of the Bulgarian Scientists Union, held in 1998. The position of the Scientists Union on the reform in science, adopted by the Congress, has outlined the following important steps: affirming the academic autonomy, establishing a system for accreditation of higher education institutions, gradual transition to the new market mechanisms for science management and financing.
In the area of education the National Institute for Education has versatile activities: research and development, information and analytical activities, consulting, publishing and bibliographic activities, based on a three-year program and one-year updated plans. The implementation of "Program 2001" has started since the beginning of 1999. The Institute adheres to the general policy and strategy of the Ministry of Education and Science for establishment of modern education with Bulgarian spirit and European dimensions.
Applied scientific and experimental consultation activities are concentrated on the following problems: methodology and technology of elaborating and implementing the state educational requirements; innovation of educational techniques; civil education; evaluation of education; organization of educational process; control of the educational quality.
In the area of the information and analytical, publishing and bibliographic activities, the National Institute for Education has the following tasks: updating, development and implementation of statistical and educational information systems; maintenance of specialized databases; automation of the information system for library and bibliographic information from Bulgarian and foreign sources; establishment of publishing and distribution complex.
Joint activities of the National Institute for Education with the Ministry of Education and Science are connected above all with participation in the elaboration of the legislation policy of the Ministry, implementation of international projects and initiatives of World Bank, PHARE, TEMPUS, Leonardo programs etc.
The presented basic documents and the activities of the Ministry of Science and Education indicate that the problems of Education for All are in the center of the entire educational policy and the strategy for its development. These problems are underlying in the educational legislation, adopted by the Parliament and they are implemented in the basic, secondary and higher education. The progress is monitored by the bodies of the Ministry of Education and Science experts of Head Departments "General Education and Vocational Training" and "Chief School Inspectorate". The monitoring is carried out by Educational Inspectorates at local level 28 for the country,which are established in the district towns. Experts on the organization of the secondary education and experts on the subjects work in the district inspectorates. They monitor the implementation of the educational policy in schools and kindergartens in the regions through current control, thematic and complete checks.
The Municipality and its respective body - Educational Department- exercise particular control over the ensuring of compulsory education at local level. This function has been assigned by the Public Education Act (1991). Previously, schools performed this function. They had a given regions for children enrolment and the requirements for enrolment and retention of all pupils were extremely strict. In the period of democratic changes, parents and children acquire the right to select schools (pursuant to Public Education Act), school regions are removed and the tasks on providing compulsory education are assigned to the municipal bodies.
The school exercises strict control over the compulsory education of all enrolled students. This is particularly true for primary schools in which the pupils belong to the compulsory educational age. A special book, in which all enrolled pupils are registered and their movement is monitored strictly promotion to a higher grade, absences, transfer to another school, leaving, dropping out and so on, is kept. The school is obliged to apply a number of measures and to notify the family and the municipality pursuant to the Public Education Act. The reasons for the dropping out or leaving of school are examined, the Pedagogic Council discusses the issues, and the municipalities impose sanction as ultimate measure. Frequently, however, the administrative measures turn out to be unsuccessful particularly in cases of unemployed or poor parents.
Which are the basic needs for knowledge and skills?
It is considered that initial literacy, knowledge and skills acquired in primary school are not sufficient for the complete realization of the individual and thats why the primary school level was removed as an independent educational level in 1998 by the Public Education Act;. basic necessary knowledge is considered to be this provided by basic education of 8 years of training. Pupils, who fail to complete it and are 13 years old, shall be enrolled into professional classes, which provide professional skills for professions that require basic education which does not require such education.
In 1996 the strategy Education for All was reconsidered, as there was some increase of out-of-the-school pupils and of the drop-out pupils in the beginning of 90ies. A National Conference dedicated to the compulsory school education was held. Experts of Ministry of Education and Science and of the Education Inspectorates, principals of schools, teachers, parents, mayors, experts of the municipal bodies for management of education participated. Vice Minister of Education held the main report. The focus was placed on the issues and the worrisome data about the compulsory education. This issue is still in the focus of the Ministry of Education and Science with a view of overcoming the negative trends and processes.
3. REACHING DECISIONS AND MANAGEMENT OF EDUCATION
Upon transition from intensely centralized to decentralized management, redistribution of management functions is carried out. Possibilities are created for a greater number of various social partners to participate.
In the Republic of Bulgaria the legislation body is the National Assembly and the superior executive body is the Council of Ministers.
Pursuant to Article 34, Paragraph 1 of the Public Education Act the state policy in the area of education is pursued by the Council of Ministers. Its specialized body (Paragraph 2) for managing the education system is the Ministry of Education and Science. It controls the activities of all kinds of kindergartens, schools, servicing units and degrees of education (Article 35). In addition to the control function, the Ministry also performs other functions, such as planning, organization, coordination, etc. (Articles 142 and 143 of the Regulations on the Implementation of the Public Education Act). The Ministry manages, coordinates, consults and decides also the main policy problems of Education for All.
State specialized regional body of managing the regional education system is the Education Inspectorate. Its structure, functions, headquarters are determined by Rules affirmed by the Minister of Education and Science (promulgated in Az Buki Newspaper, issue 22 from 1999). Its main purpose is to manage and exercise control over the activities of schools and the training process in relevant regions.
Articles 36 and 48 of the Public Education Act determine the role of municipalities in the education system. Pursuant to school legislation municipalities provide compulsory school education for children up to 16 years, health care and security in kindergartens and schools; funds for support, building, equipment and repair works of schools and kindergartens; funds for implementation of state educational requirements pursuant to Article 16, item 17 and 18 (Public Education Act), as well as funding on all sections of the curriculum of the municipal kindergartens, schools and servicing units; conditions for canteens, hostels, recreation and sports facilities and transportation for children, pupils and teachers; scholarships and specific aid for pupils. As it appears, municipalities are an extremely essential unit in the management system as they provide for the necessary material, technical, personnel, financial (to a great extent), social and organizational conditions for practical implementation of education for all.
The School in recent years has adopted a number of innovation activities that affect profoundly the concept for its orientation and adaptation to market economy, its goals, principles and strategies for activity and development. A principal manages the school. He heads the Pedagogic Council, which discusses and reaches decisions on main pedagogic issues.
Specifically established bodies, which have elective and consulting nature, assist the management at various levels such as: Municipal Councils (elective bodies to the municipalities); commissions to combat antisocial activities of minors in municipalities and schools; boards of schools trustees in schools, municipal or school public councils, etc.
4. COOPERATION IN EDUCATION FOR ALL
The state ensures the basic education to the Bulgarian students by tradition. The Ministry of Education and Science determines and implements the national strategy on education for all.
A number of non-government organizations have emerged in the process of the establishment of civil society as its important elements. This is a relatively new phenomenon in the Bulgarian public practice. Bodies for the management of education cooperate with them at national, municipal and institutional levels. Joint programs are elaborated, various activities are realized through which these organizations cooperate in the solving of the many and complicated problems connected with the education for all, the training and personal development of young people, the education and qualification of adults. The interaction between the non-government organization and the Ministry of Education and Science is regulated by bilateral agreement in legal aspect.
Non government organizations direct their efforts on behalf of education towards elaboration of programs and projects in important areas such as:
- establishment of public mechanism for supporting and implementation of educational changes: Open Society Foundation, Open Society Center, Potential Foundation, etc.
- civil education and training Civil Society Development Foundation, Open Society Center, INKOBRA Foundation, etc.
- training on information and computer technologies -Bulgarian Information Technology Association and the Bulgarian Industrial Chamber upon elaborating the strategy and the program for its implementation, the business structures for the supply of equipment, software, internet services, servicing, training of pedagogic staff, out of class training of pupils, etc.;
- rationalization and engaging the free time of the children and young people National Association Debates, To the Child with Love Foundation, Raina Kabaivanska Foundation, Bulgarian Song Foundation, Open Society Center, etc.;
- rendering specific assistance to the children in risk and with behavior deviations, integration and re-integration of these children Open Education Center, Diver City Foundation, International Center on the Problems of Minorities and Cultural Relations Foundation, etc.;
- social programs aiming at assisting children in unequal position Future for Bulgaria Foundation, Childhood Public Fund, Christian Children Trust, etc.
Health and environmental programs Open Education Center, Future for Bulgaria Foundation, Youth Red Cross, Globe Program, Time Foundation.
5. FUNDING OF EDUCATION AND INVESTMENT POLICY
Worldwide comparison of costs for education and science in the last decade reveals that countries that create conditions for their development, including financial conditions, are currently among the leading countries from economic point of view. Costs for education in the mentioned countries are increasing or remain sustainable for protracted periods of time. Pursuant to the Public Education Act and the Regulations for its Application the funding of Bulgarian education is provided mainly by the state budget through the Ministry of Education and Science and by the local budgets through municipal administrations. The amount of the funds is various depending on the levels of education and types of schools. The Government does not subsidize the training in the private schools.
According to data from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education and Science the relative share of costs for education in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the period from 1992 to 1998 is going down. (Table No.1)
Table No 1 (not available)
Education costs as a percentage of GDP
In 1997 the percentage in the annual budget report is higher due to better collection of revenues for this year. Afterwards the decrease continues and costs for education in 1998 became two-fold less compared with 1992 (from 3.2% to 6.06% in 1992)
Costs for education are divided into current expenditure and capital investment expenditure. Distribution of students at various levels of education, changes in ranking of priorities and some other indicators account for the distribution of funds.
Many of the acts, regulations, ministry decrees and other legal provisions regulate financing and legal relation in the education during the period 1990 - 1999. All aim at improving the quality of education by better funding from additional resources and their reasonable use.
In June 1994 the Ministry of Science and Education adopted Regulations No. 6 on the specific economic rules for the activities of the divisions in the system of public education. It is essential to note that Regulations emphasize that the institutions in the education system shall also receive funding from free funds provided by additional activities, from donations, contributions made by companies and government agencies for specific purposes (Article 4). Later, in the Act amending the Public Education Act (promulgated in State Gazette, issue 36 from 1998) Article 44 was worded, which in its essence comprises requirements for the accumulation of funds from additional sources - types of activities, criteria, preferences, etc.
Through the project "Financial Managing of the Secondary Education", elaborated by the Ministry of Education and Science and funded by the PHARE program, 100 schools have been implementing the policy of decentralized decision making through application of delegated budgets system. The essence of the delegated budget is as follows: subsidies from the state and municipal budgets are allocated to schools according to a certain formula based on several criteria such as the number of students, the size of the school building, expenses on repair work and maintenance. The principal of the school has greater freedom and flexibility to operate the funds as he deems necessary. The Ministry of Education and Science or municipalities do not collect the remaining part or the accumulated funds, which are used during the next fiscal year without any reduction of the subsidy. The Ministry of Education and Science is expected to take a decision for expanding the practice of the delegated budgets.
The expenditure for capital investments in education upon the implementation of the plan of the Ministry of Education and Science for public schools during the period from 1991 to 1998 has increased: from 59.353 thousand BGL in 1991 to 10.013.439 thousand BGL in 1998 (Table No. 2)
Table No 2 Capital expenditure costs (thousand levs) not available
In spite of the inflation process, the trend is definite. A number of facilities such as kindergartens, primary and secondary schools (general education and professional schools), schools for children with special needs and for orphans, facilities for the higher institutions after reorganization, reconstruction or construction were opened. These data refer to all public schools of all levels, not only the schools for primary education.
Chronic financial pressure has unfavorable effect on the supply of students with textbooks and teaching materials. Pupils received them free of charge from the 1st through the 8th grade. By Decision of the College of the Ministry of Education and Science from 1999/2000 free of charge textbooks shall be provided only to entrants in grade 1. For the students from the 2nd through the 8th grade librarian fund shall be established based on the available textbooks, which fund shall be used by children from poor families, determined by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.