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In Bulgaria work on the announced by the World Declaration on Education for All goal - meeting basic learning needs of all children, youth and adults, coincided with the period of nation-wide reforms in socio-political and socio-economic life.

At the beginning of the 90s fast and thorough changes in education toward depoliticizing and -closer ties with the national tradition and universal human values were generally expected. The education system was to be one of the nation’s fundamental means of joining leading world science and culture trends.

For pedagogues, education organizers and for the general public it became obvious that education reforms were a slow, hard and inconsistent process. The inertness of the education system and the constant financial crisis it has suffered during last years give few opportunities for fast and significant changes in it.

Reforms, however, can neither be halted nor delayed. The actual problem is how they can be optimally conformed to the national tradition and the new problems and tendencies in the economy, social life organization and culture.(5, p. 42)


Bulgarian school education is based on sound tradition and achievements, commensurate with the needs of a modern industrial society. A broad education network is constructed, which can take in all children eligible for compulsory education (up to 16 years of age) in general, vocational, special, private and night schools. Colleges and Universities provide opportunities for continuing of education through regular, correspondent or distant study and various forms of continuous education.

Table No 3 ( not available')

The general school network changed considerably due to the merging, closing and transformation of schools. The decrease in the number of pupils is caused by demographic processes (a decrease in the contingent of population, aged 7 to 18 years), by family pecuniary difficulties, by emigration and migration processes during the period.

The problem of early school leaving is a long-lasting and grave one. The possibilities to solve it with the efforts of the education system are restricted. The real solution is hidden in overcoming the crisis economic situation, as well as in limiting economic stratification, which drives toward significant educational disparities. Certain support for mitigating the problem is provided by the distribution of free school textbooks for pupils in fisrts grade.

During the period under examination the care of children with special educational needs kept being taken. The network of special schools for physically disabled or mentally retarded children and for children with socially dangerous behaviour was preserved without changing substantially. It included: subsidiary, instructive boarding schools, socio-pedagogical boarding schools, special schools for hearing-impaired children or children with visual defects, logopedic schools.

Table No 4  Special schools ( not available')

Table No 5 Children and youth homes (not available')


Pre-school Education in the Republic of Bulgaria has a history of 120 years. It develops, following the European traditions and the specific national characteristics. It was treated by the Bulgarian legislation as early as 1891, when compulsory education was introduced in kindergartens. In 1934 the first legal act – the Decree of Pre-school Education, was enacted, which defined pre-school education as a degree of primary education and specified three types of child’s institutions. The Public Education Act from 1991 provides for the establishment of preparatory groups and classes, aimed at improving children’s preparation for school.

Pursuant to the Public Education Act from 1991 and the Act Amending the Public Education Act from 1998, kindergartens are the places where children can attend to from their third year of age till entering school (the official school-entrance age is 7). Kindergartens can be public, municipal or private. Children’s entry in kindergartens is up to the will and choice of their parents or guardians. Practically, even 2.5-year-old children are admitted to kindergartens. For younger children are instituted crèches to take care of their upbringing and education. The municipal sector, financed by municipal budgets, is prevalent (over 95%). Pre-school education has social nature and is intended for all children of the indicated age. For poor children or orphans there are established boarding schools, and for the physically disabled or mentally retarded children there are special kindergartens. Private kindergartens are opened by order of the Minister of Education and Science at the request of Bulgarian individuals or legal entities and are not supported by the state budget. Currently, the majority of private kindergartens in Bulgaria work by specially approved by the Ministry of Education and Science educational programs.

In public and municipal kindergartens parents pay fees at a rate determined by the Municipal Council in accordance with the Local Taxes and Fees Act. Children’s preparation for school is carried out in kindergartens or in preparatory classes in schools.

Main objective: The kindergarten provides a child with the necessary conditions to develop its abilities to the highest degree and to prepare for school. For particular periods of time the accent is laid on different issues, but it pursues a sole objective – creating favourable conditions of children’s upbringing and education. Pre-school education objectives change according to the goals of general education. Thus, in connection with the trend toward education humanization and democratization (1992), the accent is laid upon the search of new forms of communication with children and upon the establishment of partnership relations between a teacher and a child. Socio-economic and political changes in Bulgarian society enforced also changes in the educational content of pre-school curricula. The model of personality-oriented pedagogical interaction comes forth. The education activity of kindergartens is guided by the idea to direct education towards the person and his individuality and towards the peculiarities in society development. Pre-school education’s objective is to introduce the child into the object and material world of the adults through a variety of activities, to instruct it in universal human values, to preserve and encourage self-expression of child’s individuality. The child is placed in the center of the educational process, while at the same time its independence and dignity are encouraged. One of the purposes of pre-school education is the child’s preparation for school. It becomes the emphasis in the work of kindergartens in the school-year 1997-1998 (33). Particular attention is paid to the diagnostics of readiness for school and of the need to give all children equal opportunity of successful education. Besides, preference is given not only to the special knowledge a child receives in kindergarten, but also to certain skills and habits of adapting to the new environment and study.

Indicator 1. Gross enrolment in early childhood development programs, including public, private and municipal programs.

Pre-school education accomplishes its goals and tasks in all-day, sanitary, special and half-day kindergartens and school preparatory groups. The Bulgarian pre-school education system has plenty of the necessary equipment available, which is able to provide 100% all-day enrolment of children. The socio-economic problems in Bulgaria have also an adverse impact on the enrolment of children in pre-school institutions. Along with the negative population growth, they are the factors that accounted for decreasing the enrolment rate of children in kindergartens. The largest number of children enrolled is in all-day kindergartens. In 1990 all-day kindergartens were 4,579 out of a total of 4,590 child’s institutions. Their number during the reported period decreases and in 1998 reached 2,441 out of 3,381 kindergartens. A large part of the sanitary kindergartens, where children with health problems receive education, were closed down – out of 567 in 1990 they were only 11 in 1998 (see Diagram No 1).

Number of kindergartens (incl. public, municipal, private)

Diagram No 1 (not available)

For the reported period (1990-1998) the number of pre-school age children enrolled was the largest in the school-year 1990-1991 – 312,003 out of a total of 595,448 children 2 to 7 years of age. The gross rate of children in kindergartens for this period is 52.4%. The highest children enrolment rate is in towns – 217,698, which amounts to 53.13%, while in villages the enrolment rate is 94,305 children or 50.78%. In Sofia the total number of children in kindergartens is the smallest – 36,485 or 49.78%. Two explanations of this fact can be given: first – the number well-off of parents who can afford a child’s governess is rather small, and second - unemployment is high. The data show a decline in the total number of children for the first 4 years and a gradual increase following. As early as in the next school-year 1991-1992, the gross rate of children in kindergartens falls by 7% - 45.64%. In the school-year 1995-1996 the total number of children enrolled is smaller than in 1990-1991, but the gross rate is higher – 54.04%. This is due to the fact, that the total number of children at the age from 2 to 7 decreased by 108,535 –from 595,448 to 486,913. During the next 4 years a stable upward tendency in the gross enrolment rate in kindergartens is observed, as the rate reaches 58% in the school-year 1998-1999, although the aggregate number of children enrolled is smaller – 230,326 for 1998-1999. The total number of 2- to 7-year-old children for 1998-1999 has decreased by 198,317, compared with 1990-1991 – from 595,448 to 397,131 (see Diagram No 2).

Gross rate (%) of children in kindergartens

Diagram No2 (not available)

The gross enrolment rate in kindergartens in villages is 46.99% in 1999 down from 50.78 % in 1990. Complicated demographic processes in the country, which are marked with a decrease of people at generative age in villages and thence of children, account for this fact. (see Diagram No 3)

Gross rate of children in kindergartens – town-village ratio

A great deal of the children not enrolled in a kindergarten come from families of unemployed, low-income families or families at risk.

Children in kindergartens are classified only on the basis of age, 4 age-groups being formed – children from 3 to 4, 4 to 5, 5 to 6 and 6 to 7 years old. Age grouping is not obligatory. Where conditions or circumstances (the number of children or the development of individual child’s abilities) make it necessary, age groups can be mixed. Groups consist of 10 to 25 children. Public and municipal kindergartens are opened when at least 4 and no more than 8 groups are formed. Most kindergartens are independent institutions, opened by municipal authorities. They have an all-day regime of work and are housed in specially constructed buildings. In places where children are fewer, children’s groups in schools, as well as school preparatory groups, or classes, are formed. They work half-day and in shifts.

Kindergarten pedagogical process is directed at the emotional, moral, esthetic, intellectual and physical development of every child.

A novelty in pre-primary education pedagogical practice is that the volume and the nature of the educational contents of different subjects are determined by two programs: a) A program of child’s education at the age from 2 to 7 years; b) Child’s activity in a kindergarten.

Selecting and structuring of the curricula contents are mainly subject to the integrative situational principle and the thematically spiral principle. Programs are effective on a national scale, teachers being given the opportunity to choose between both. The educative contents of the curricula is distributed in several universal areas: "My world", "The others And I", "Nature And I", etc.

A chief method of organizing pedagogical interaction is the game.

Child’s development is examined by teachers and parents together in an environment and activities, natural for the child (play, classes, holidays, excursions, etc.). Leading methods of examination are the game, the analysis of child’s creative work and the natural pedagogical experiment.

The acknowledged fundamental examination levels are self-knowledge, sensory skills, cognitive abilities, emotional and will regulation and social skills.

The National Institute for Education designed a system of work in school preparatory groups and after its experimental introduction in 25 kindergartens in the school-year 1997-1998, it was proposed for general introduction into practice. Besides that, a project for working with socially neglected children, mainly of gypsy origin, is put into action in the country. The principal objective is that children learn the Bulgarian language before they enter school and that they join the traditional culture and value system. In school preparatory groups the main form of education is the class, which gets children ready for entering the system of lessons and classes at school. At this stage they automatically pass from one age group into another, regardless of their individual development and the results they have shown. Currently, state education standards and a system evaluating child’s development and achievements are being developed.

In kindergartens there are specific forms of organization of the pedagogical process and education, which are different from the school forms and correspond to age features and abilities of children. Group study, didactic games and pedagogic situations are applied in addition to classes.

Transition to school is slowly carried out. It is ensured by the continuity of the education programs and the study forms between kindergarten and grade 1 of primary education.

The transition to primary grade 1 is determined by parents’ will and, not of least importance, child’s results. More and more schools that offer foreign language study as early as in primary grade 1 set definite requirements to the child’s level and put children to a kind of test to make a selection.

At the universities, training teachers of children, author’s education programs, offering pre-school education variants, are realized. Lately, special attention has been paid to early study of foreign languages. Various education projects are applied.

Kindergarten teachers are divided in groups of two. They are appointed to a six-hour workday on the payroll. Their training allows them to show themselves as persons of encyclopedic knowledge and not of object knowledge only. About 98% of teachers in Bulgarian pre-school institutions have a college or university degree and the other 2% have secondary education. Teachers of children are trained in seven universities by special programs. They are offered post-graduate qualification in three teachers’ training colleges.

Table No 6  Pedagogical specialists for 1998 in pre-school institutions (not available')

Indicator 2. Percentage of new entrants to primary grade 1 who have attended a pre-school educational institution.

The percentage of new entrants to primary grade 1 who have attended some form of pre-school education exceeds 50% for the period from 1990 to 1998, but is not satisfactory, because the country has the capacity to provide a 100% enrolment rate. The great economic and social upheavals after 1989, when more than 85% of entrants to primary grade 1 were enrolled in some form of pre-school education, caused a decline in the enrolment rate to 58.24% in 1990. The next years register a slight increase and the enrolment rate for 1998 is 62%. Bearing in mind the great importance of child’s early participation in the education programs for developing child’s cognitive abilities and successful study at school, it is necessary to undertake measures for raising the enrolment rate. The most reliable measure is to render school preparatory groups obligatory. Thus even children coming from low-income families or families at risk and children of gypsy origin will be granted access to child’s institutions. This is one of the problems that are to be solved in the future.


In the World Declaration on Education for All great importance is attached to ensuring the access of all children to primary education and its successful completion. It can be said that Bulgaria has certain achievements in this respect. Great importance is attached to primary education in particular, with regard to mastering basic knowledge, forming learning skills and habits, education and overall development of each pupil’s personality. In this view, in the school-year 1993-1994 primary education duration was increased from three to four years. In this way an opportunity for a more complete basic preparation and a less painful transition to the education in upper grades is provided.

Work in primary schools is driven to be maximally close to children’s life, to help them advance in studies, to strengthen their desire and interest in an active lifestyle as well as in understanding and independently solving the problems they meet. In this view, curricula contents is updated and teaching methods and instruments are diversified in order to give pupils the opportunity for greater self-dependence, personal freedom and active participation. Teachers are recommended to use modern strategies of educational and cognitive activity, which create an atmosphere of mutual co-operation between a teacher and pupils and among pupils themselves as well as form group- and team-working skills.

Curricula in primary grades provide for the study of the Bulgarian language, literature, mathematics, the native land, nature, fine arts, music, do-it-yourself work and physical education (totaling 22 to 25 classes per week). This is the required minimum of general education. Also, 4 classes of an elective subject are included, designed for the study of foreign languages or educative activities with sports or esthetic inclination etc. The general education schools, recognized by the Ministry of Education and Science, apply a specially developed plan for classes with early foreign language study (from grade 1) and sample curricula for classes with intensive music, choreography and fine arts study. Certain specialists and equipment availability is required for opening schools of that type.

Indicator 3. Gross intake rate: new entrants in primary grade 1 as a percentage of the population of official entry age.

In terms of this indicator the country marks a high general level of primary education accessibility and the capacity of the education system to provide access to primary education for the official school-entrance age population.

The number of new entrants in grade 1 in 1990 is 114,162, and for 1999 – 101,629 (12,533 less).

Data are spread in the following way by years: not available

The increase of the number of the first primary grade entrants in 1994-96 school-year is due to the change of the official entry age (those who are 7 years old and those who are 6 years old and wish to enroll). 7-year old pupils dominate.

The statistical data for the number of primary-grade pupils are more accurate according to the official entry age. not available

After the comparison of the data it may be pointed out that up to 1992/93 school-year the pupils, who are under-aged or over-aged than the official entry age, are 2-3,000; after 1993/94 school-year they are 5-6,000. These are mainly children, who are 6 years old and are enrolled in school upon the wish of their parents.

The high proportion of pupil enrolment is an achievement for the primary school in Bulgaria. The gross intake share (rate) of the new entrants in first primary grade as a percentage of the population of official entry age by years is as follows:

Data show a high degree of enrolment in first grade. They reflect the opportunities of the educational system to provide access for education to all pupils of official entry age, including under-aged and over-aged entrants (that is why the percentage is above 100%) not available

Indicator 4. Net intake rate: new entrants to primary grade 1 who are of the official primary school-entrance age as a percentage of the corresponding population.

The indicator for the net intake rate of new entrants to first grade of primary education (who are of the official primary school-entrance age) gives more accurate impression on the school enrolment. For the country the rate is as follows:

not available

As a whole, the net intake rate of entrants to first primary grade is high. It varies from 98.15% to 99.35%. After the highest net intake rate in 1993/94 (99.35%), begins a decrease in the enrolment of all pupils, who must be enrolled in first primary grade. The statistical data show that in 1993/94 the non-enrolled pupils were 0.65%, in 1997/98 they are 1.36% and in 1998/99 - 1.85%. This is an alarming sign, which all bodies that handle the enrolment of children of the official entry age will consider with anxiety and will take measures against.

Boys and girls in Bulgaria have equal opportunities for receiving education. There are no gender-based factors and stereotypes in the field of education.

Substantive differences in regard to the intake rate to first primary grade of the pupils of the official entry age in the various regions of the country, in the town and villages cannot be detected.

Table 7.Enrolment of primary grade 1 pupils of the official primary school-entrance age (not available)

As can be seen from the data, there are small differences between the intake rate to first primary grade of pupils in the towns and in the villages.

Table 8. Net share of pupils, enrolled in first primary grade (not available)

1 The districts contain all (28) regions of the country

2 There is no data for the period 1990-94

Fields with tendencies for a sharp worsening of the intake rate cannot be detected, although there are areas in Bulgaria with specific ethnical features. There is a decrease for certain some years, the lowest values having been reached in districts like Haskovo (95.50% in 1998/99, 95.77% in 1995/96), Varna (96.58% in 1994/95), Montana (97.24% in 1998/99 and 97.32% in 1996/97), Rousse (97.83% in 1994/95)

The highest intake rate to first primary grade for the survey period have registered the following districts: Plovdiv (99.43% in 1994/95 and 1995/96, 99.47% in 1996/97), city of Sofia (99.36% in 1994/95 and 99.06% from 1996 to 1998), district of Sofia (99.24% in 1997/98).

Statistical data show that there are children who are not enrolled in first primary grade, though their number is small. They are a constant matter of concern for schools, teachers, municipal and regional bodies of education.

Indicator 5. Gross Enrolment Ratio.

The analysis of Gross Enrolment Ratio for Bulgaria shows a high level of enrolment in primary education and the capability of the country to provide access to education to all children. The enrolment ratio has increased gradually from 98.66% in 1990/91 school-year to 100.34% in 1997/98 for the last decade. The highest values of the ratio were in the period 1994 - 1998.

If the Gross Enrolment Ratio data are compared with these for first primary grade, the conclusion that the first primary grade pupils are more successfully enrolled may be drawn; the Gross Enrolment Ratio for other primary grades is lower.

Gross enrollment ratio in primary education

Diagram No 4 (not available)

Indicator 6. Net Enrolment Ratio

Net Enrolment Ratio expresses the enrolment (scholarization) of the official primary school age-group as a percentage of the corresponding population. It gives a more precise measurement of the extent of participation of children belonging to the official primary school age.

Net Enrolment Ratio in primary education (not available)

When the Gross Enrolment Ratio is compared with the Net Enrolment Ratio, the difference between the two ratios measures the incidence of under-aged and over-aged enrolment. The comparison of the data by years shows that this difference is below 1% (it is 1.44% only in 1998/99).

It may be said that the difference between Net Enrolment Ratio and 100% measures the proportion of school-age children not enrolled at the primary level. It varies between 0.3% and 1.99% in different years. There is an increase of the Net Enrolment Ratio in the middle of the period under examination (1994-1997) and a decrease in the last 2 years. In 1997/98 the ratio of non-enrolled pupils is 1.36% and in 1998/99 – 1.99%. Behind these indicators are several thousand pupils, who are out of the school. Administrative and social actions are undertaken for their decrease.

Data analysis does not outline substantial differences in enrolment by gender – girls and boys.

Table No 9  Enrolment in primary education – proportion between genders (not available)

1 GER- Gross Enrollment Ratio

2 NER- Net Enrollment Ratio

The Gross Enrolment Ratio and the Net Enrolment Ratio in the town schools are comparatively higher than those in village schools.

Table No 10  Enrolment in primary education – proportion between towns and villages (not available)

There are no substantial differences in regard to the various districts.

Available data show that the lowest pupil enrolment rate in primary education during the period under examination was registered in Haskovo (96.33% in 1992/93), Montana (97.30% in 1993/94), Bourgas (97.27% in 1998/99). The highest values were achieved in the following districts: Varna (99.78% in 1994/95), Plovdiv (99.73% in 1994/95), city of Sofia (99.04% in 1991/92). There is a general increase of the enrolment rate in all districts in the period between 1994 and 1997 and a decrease in 1998/99.

Table No 11  Net Enrolment Ratio in primary education by districts (not available)

The Ministry of Education and Science and the school inspectorates in the districts and municipalities monitor with priority the contingent of threatened and dropping-out pupils. A strict accountability for the enrolment and movement of those subject to education is kept. Periodic checks, followed by social and administrative measures at all levels are made. It is worked with the lagging pupils for filling the omissions and for their motivating to stay in school. Activities for manifestation of their interests are organized. Explanatory work among the parents communties, who are not motivated to educate their children, is carried out through the help of non-government organizations and associations. Free food, clothes, notebooks, school appliances, etc. are provided to children from poor families through the cooperation of the municipalities and through sponsors. The free capacity of the centers for children and teenagers is used for accommodation of foundling children. Great efforts are applied having in mind the importance of the problem both for the personality and for the society.

Indicators No 7 and No 8. Public expenditure on primary education

Education Financing

According to information from the Ministry of Finance, shown in Table No 5 (from the statistical tables), in accordance with Indicators 7 and 8 of UNESCO, the public current expenditure on primary education as an absolute value has increased substantially for the last 10 years – from 275,870,499 BGL in 1990 to 10,312,250,000 BGL in 1999 (forecast data). This increase could be explained by the priority given to primary education in resource allocation, as well as by other reasons. In 1993/94 school-year the number of primary education pupils increases by almost 100 thousand pupils, or 1/3, due to the increase of its training term from 3 to 4 years. Inflation processes also affected it, especially the hyperinflation rate in 1997.

The period under examination starts with a relative share of 12.64% of the current expenditure on primary education of total current expenditure on education (all degrees), followed by an insignificant increase in the period between 1992 and 1996, after which it decreases to 9.39% in 1997. The financial conditions in 1998 are improved and the percentage increases to 11.53% of total public expenditure on education and according to forecast data it will reach 11.56% in 1999 (Table 5 from the statistical tables).

When looking for reasons for the decrease of the relative share of public current expenditure on primary education, one should consider, collapse besides the financial difficulties of the country during the period, the tendency for decrease of the number of pupils due to the demographic. (Table 5 from the statistical tables, column 4 and column 6). This leads to the decrease of the number of teachers and closing of schools with the purpose of achieving an optimal school network.

Public current expenditure in primary education as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product shows the relative share of the value of total national production of goods and services in a given year, i.e. the relative share of the expenditure on primary education, which the society incurs for it. This relative share of 0.61%, after a certain increase in 1991 and 1992, starts to decrease and in 1999 it is 0.44% (forecast data); the highest decrease is in 1996 and 1997 (see Table 5 from the statistical tables, column 8).

Public current expenditure per pupil in a given financial year measures the average value of one pupil in primary education in relation to the Gross Domestic Product per capita, i.e. the average cost of one pupil is related to the theoretical average income per capita. This percentage, which is 15.37% in 1990, after a certain increase in 1992/93, also decreases and in 1999 it is 8.75% (forecast data), or two times less than in 1990. During the crisis years 1996 and 1997 it was respectively 7.22% and 7.19%.

The Currency Board introduction contributes to the establishment of certain financial stability, which has created opportunities for improvement of the financial conditions in the education. All of the three indicators under survey, which have registered their lowest values in 1997 (Table 5 from the statistical tables, columns 7, 8 and 9), have showed positive changes during the next years, though not substantial.

Analysis of the internal structure of current expenditure on education shows that the relative share of the expenditure for salaries and for social security payments of the employees in the system has the highest value.

The main objective of the income policy in regard to the education system, as a part of the general income policy for the country, is to maintain the social status, the level of salaries reached, and to create conditions for increase of income for those working in it. These objectives are achieved through legislative acts on labor payment for the system of secondary education.

A Decree of the Council of Ministers from 1996 stipulates a classifier of the positions by levels and rates of initial salaries for science and education. This classifier was extended in 1998 and it established all positions used in the area of science, higher, and secondary education with the respective levels and initial salaries for them.

The Ordinance for determination of individual monthly salaries of the personnel, employed in the system of secondary education of the Ministry of Education and Science, which has been applied since the second quarter of 1996, stipulates unified mechanisms for the formation of the salaries for the pedagogical personnel. Remuneration depends on the personal qualifications, years of service in the profession and the type of the educational institution. Legal prerequisite has been established in order to attract specialists with a high professional experience and qualifications in the educational system through the remuneration.

According to Art. 35 of the Act Amending the People’s Education Act (1998), the employed in the educational system get an additional remuneration three times a year upon an order of the Minister of Science and Education. The amount of the remuneration is differentiated and in calendar 1999 the employed in the educational system will receive on average 150 BGL (150 DM). The mechanisms elaborated and the additional remuneration create a legal prerequisite for the increase of real income of the employed in the educational system.

Financial data show that in 1999 there is a tendency for a small increase in the average gross salary both for the country and for the educational system.

According to data from the Ministry of Education and Science for the last accounting period – the first quarter of 1999, the average gross salary for the country is 188,299 BGL, for the employed on the budget’s account is 154,772 BGL, and for the employed in the educational system - 150,22 BGL (151 DM).

For the fiscal year of 1998 the average gross salary for the country is 187,738 BGL, for the employed on the budget’s account - 155,827 BGL, and for the employed in the educational system - 148,343 BGL (148 DM). The average gross salary in education is lower than the one on budget’s account.

Irrespective of some unfavorable tendencies in relation to expenditure on education, it continues to be a priority public care for Bulgarian society and the republic budget is the principal source of financial funds for its functioning and development. Together with the guarantee for the school functioning given by the budget, the need for usage of alternative sources for an additional financing comes forward. The attention is directed to:

- improving the financing mechanism;

- optimizing the school network;

- preferences and tax relief for the organizations, who provide services to the schools etc.

Indicator 9. Percentage of primary school teachers having the required academic qualifications

The number of school teachers teaching at the first stage of primary education during the period 1990-1998 ranges between 23,140 and 24,920 persons. (see Table 12) Certain increase or decrease of this number of around 300-500 persons is observed during the separate school-years, most school-years being characterized by an increase, and 1992/93 and 1997/98 – by a decrease. The decrease in the number of teachers is significant in the last 1997/98– by 1,108 persons and it is due mainly to the established tendency for decrease of the number of pupils because of demographic reasons. The number of pupils has decreased by 7,295 f or the same school-year. Another reason, connected with this tendency, are the actions taken by the Ministry of Education and Science and the Municipalities for optimization and restructuring of the educational network by increasing the class fulfillment rate and by judging the conditions and perspectives of schools in small towns and villages. This requires the realization of some dismissals of teachers in the range of 4-5% in this period.

In 1993/94 the increase in the number of pupils is by around 102,200, because IV grade was transferred from junior high to primary school, i.e. from II to I stage of basic education. However, for the same year the number of teachers increases by only 500 persons, which leads to an improvement of the Pupil-teacher ratio and of the fulfillment of the classes.

As a whole, there is certain stability in the number of teachers, which indicates an improvement in the quality of primary education.

Men-women ratio among primary teachers

The prevailing part of primary teachers are women – 86.28% in 1990/91 and 89.63% in 1997/98. There is a tendency towards further decrease in the number of men and increase in the number of women. (see Table 12) In 1997/98 men were 10.37% of the total number of primary teachers. This is a quite disturbing data for feminization of teacher’s profession, especially in these grades. The tendency for decrease of men among primary teachers is strongly represented in the Number of men-women teachers ratio. To one man-teacher during 1990/91 school-year corresponded 6.29 women, and to one woman – 0.16 men. In the next years this ratio was 0.13 men to one woman in 1994/95 and 7.8 women to one man-teacher, and in 1997/98 it was 0.12 men to one woman and 8.65 women to one man-teacher.

Taking into account the role of teachers of both sexes for the education and development of pupils in primary education, we consider that this reality of strong feminization and tendency of its increase is not a positive process. In the next grades and school levels the men-women ratio among teachers is a little better, but still there the feminization of the teacher’s profession is too large.

Teachers in towns and villages

The prevailing part of the teachers in the first stage of primary school are in towns, where the larger number of pupils is concentrated. (see Table 12) In 1990/91 14,300 teachers of the total of 24,177 for the country worked in towns, which was 59.10%. During the next years, the share of teachers in towns is gradually increasing compensated by that in villages.

In 1996/97 primary teachers, working in town schools, amounted to 16,073, which accounted for 64.60% of the total number, and in villages – 8,847 or 35.5%. The tendency towards increase in the number of teachers in towns, compensated by the decrease of the number of teachers in villages is mostly seen after 1994. This process is connected with demographic indicators and especially with birth rate and migration and affects mostly schools in villages.

Teachers with minimum academic qualifications

Teachers, teaching at the first stage of primary education can be divided into three groups according to their qualifications:

- teachers with higher education, university graduates with different duration of education (4-5 years) until 1995, when the Higher Education Act comes into effect and acknowledges the "Master of Arts" degree; teachers with higher education, university graduates after 1995 – with duration of education 4 years, with qualification degree "Bachelor of Arts", and duration of 5 years – with degree "Master of Arts";

- teachers, graduates of a semi-high teachers institute, with duration of education 2-3 years until 1995, and a pedagogical college after that with degree "Specialist" in the framework of higher education;

- teachers, graduated secondary special pedagogical education in the pedagogical high schools in the period 1948-68, specialized in intensively preparing teachers for primary school. During the last years they were gradually finishing their professional career and retiring.

Indicator 9 – teachers with "minimum academic qualifications" includes teachers from the first two groups, because they have received their qualification in the framework of higher education and hold one of its three levels: Master of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and Specialist.

Teachers with minimum academic qualifications represent the prevailing part in primary school (see Table 12). Their number changed from 18,420 persons in 1990/91 or 76.18%, to 23,509 or 98.73% in 1997/98. This increase was by 5,000 teachers or 22.53%. In 1998 in primary school worked only 300 teachers with no academic qualifications, or 1.27%, but they have pedagogical education, acquired in special pedagogical schools. The significant increase in the number and the relative share of teachers with academic qualifications in this period is due mainly to the well-organized and quality university education for primary teachers, which many young people graduate, after which they start working in schools. In Bulgaria there are 6 universities, which prepare primary teachers and they are in: Sofia – Faculty for Children’s and Primary Teachers at Sofia University, South-Western University of Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Rousse, Shoumen, and Veliko Turnovo. The specialists that graduate them with Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees fill the vacant positions in primary education every year and this contributes to the significant increase in the number of teachers with academic qualifications. At the same time, the number of teachers not having academic qualifications is decreasing sharply, because the competent teachers with secondary special education exit the system due to their coming of certain age and retiring. To this group belongs also a small group of teachers, who do not have pedagogical education.

The data analysis shows one more important positive tendency. Among primary teachers, the number of university graduates and holders of Master of Arts or Bachelor of Arts degrees has increased significantly for the period 1990-1998. From 4,215 teachers with higher education in 1990/91 or 17.40% - to 13,456 in 1997/98 or 56.53%, or the increase is around 30%. This is quite a large relative share of higher education specialists in primary school and it has been accomplished for the last 8 –9 years, which suggests modern preparation and entry of a large number of young specialists in primary grades. At the same time, the number of teachers with academic qualifications is being limited, but for the lowest educational degree, "Specialists", graduating the pedagogical colleges. From 14,205 persons in 1990/91 or 58.40%, their number decreased to 9,603 persons or 40.30% (by around 18%).

These data show that highly qualified teachers work in Bulgarian primary school and the tendency is towards further increase. The number of higher education teaching specialists for the country is higher – 66% in 1996, 74% in 1998, because in junior high school (II stage of basic education), and especially in high schools and secondary professional schools mainly teachers with higher education teach. In primary grades also teachers with college education and educational degree "Specialist" have the right to teach. These are positive realities and perspectives, which create advantageous conditions for a high-quality education in primary school, for achievement of education for all children.

Indicator 10. Percentage of teachers certified to teach in primary schools

This indicator characterizes the number of teachers who have a teacher’s certificate to teach in initial grades of primary schools. The requirements to occupying the position of a "teacher" or "educator", in accordance with the acquired education, professional skills and qualification, are regulated by Instructions No. 2 of the Ministry of Education and Science (MOS), published in the State Gazette, issue 69 of 1994, amended in 1994, 1995 and 1996. According to these instructions, the position primary school teacher may be occupied by teachers with higher education, who have majored in primary school pedagogics or pedagogics, and with college education with a major primary school pedagogics. The qualification acquired is certified by a diploma for completed higher or college education, issued by Bulgarian educational institutions established pursuant to Article 2 of the Law on Higher Education and the institutions that have joined them - Article 5/3 of Instructions No. 2 (14). The teachers with higher education in the majors shown above have a priority in occupying the position of a "primary school teacher" to those with another major and acquired specialization or requalification, as well as to those with college education.

The teachers teaching in primary grades of the Bulgarian schools are traditionally with high skills and teacher’s qualifications. According to the data of the survey (see Table 12), the percentage of the people having a certificate to teach in primary schools according to national standards is above 98%. For the individual years after 1990, it varies between 96% and 98%.

The teachers who do not have a certificate to teach in primary schools are slightly over one per cent and only for the school year 1994/95 they reach about 2%. Among them, there are teachers with higher or college education, but in other majors and in this sense the uncertified teachers are very few in number (327) for 1997/98. They are most often in small schools, in too remote settlements. In the country, there are trained qualified primary school teachers who are unemployed, but a part of them do not wish to work in remote settlements, which necessitates the appointment of uncertified teachers. As a whole, this problem is not one of the difficult ones for the country because the higher schools and the colleges train and annually grant diplomas to a number of teachers with such qualification. As seen also from the data, the percentage of the certified teachers is high, and of the uncertified ones - too low, which is an important prerequisite for effective education.

The primary school teachers enjoy good authority. They have been trained both theoretically and practically. They distinguish themselves by formed pedagogical skills and professionalism, know how to attract small pupils to school, retain and train them, conforming the teaching activity to their age and individual characteristics, including in the techniques and methods of teaching more game elements, entertaining and interesting teaching activities and tasks. The primary school pupils, according to the surveys, have a high positive motivation to study, visit school willingly and this is due to a great extent to the professionalism and skills of primary school teachers. Their activity is especially important to secure conditions for solving the problems connected with education for all.

Indicator 11. Number of pupils who are taught by one teacher in primary schools

The indicator number of pupils who are taught by one teacher is especially important in the education system. It carries information about the conditions under which the pupils are being taught in class, how many are taught by one teacher and, hence, the possibilities of the teacher to get to know his/her pupils, to realize individual approach in their training and education. At the same time, this indicator is comparable for the different countries and characterizes the price that a given country invests in education of pupils.

In primary education, this indicator in our country varies between 13.84 pupils taught by one teacher for 1990/91, 17.93 -for 1993/94 and 17.71 - for 1997/98 (see Table 13). This data shows a tendency of increase of number of pupils per teacher during the period 1990 - 1998. After 1993, when the fourth grade of the education structure went on from junior high school to primary education, the number of pupils increased by about 102,000, and of the teachers - only by 500 people. This lead to considerable increase of the number of pupils per teachers - from 13.84 to 17.93, which, at that stage, is a positive change as it improves the ratio dealt with. The relatively high values of this indicator of primary education (for junior high school and high school, it is between 13 - 14 and 16 -17) are connected with the conditions created for education of all children, with the compulsory nature of the elementary and primary education. Data in the included table (No. 13) show that this indicator is considerably higher for the schools in the towns (especially in bigger towns such as Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Rouse, Bourgas, etc.) and considerably lower in the villages - 16.36 against 10.21. This is connected with the policy pursued in the country: to keep schools and classes in small villages with a small number of pupils and, where possible, to evade that small pupil commute to schools in neighbouring villages. This is a very big care of the children although the education becomes more expensive, especially when the number of pupils taught by one teacher drops to 8 or even 6. Average data, however, conceal this fact although for the villages the indicator is very low.

By districts, the highest values of the indicator are in the city of Sofia (21.93 for the school year 1993/94), for Bourgas district (19.02 for the same yea), for Rouse district 18.32, etc. They are lowest in Haskovo district - 12.6 for 1990/91, for Montana district - 12.67. They characterize retention of a big number of small schools in the small villages of the districts, as well as low indicators of demographic processes and especially of birth rate.

In the last years, one of the priority tasks of the MOS is connected with optimization of the education network of the country, with an examination of the conditions and the number of pupils and the children born after 1990 in view of taking managemental decisions for the survival and development of small schools or for their merger or closing. This process is very painful for small villages and municipalities. They solve these problems led by economic and social reasons. Practice has shown that closing of schools in small villages leads to their depopulation and decline. That is why one acts especially carefully by seeking most correct and acceptable solutions. The process of optimization of the education network at the same time allows modernization of teaching, enrichment of material and technical foundation, better communications and more effective training of pupils.

Table No 13 Number of pupils, taught by one teacher in primary grades (not available)

Indicator 12. Percentage of repeating pupils by school years

The indicator repeating pupils by grade and school years characterizes the internal efficiency of the education system or, more exactly, its inefficiency for this portion of the pupils. It shows the number of the pupils who have not acquired the determined educational minimum for the given grade, have not coped with the learning contents studied and do not have the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies to be promoted to higher grade. These pupils repeat the same grade in the following school year. When data is too high, they may mean also high complexity, difficulty and inaccessibility of the learning contents. That is why, this indicator is observed every year and is an important prerequisite for taking the respective managemental decisions.

Analysis of data about repeating pupils in primary schools (see Table No. 15) shows that during the period 1990-98 their number varies between 2,800 and 5,700 or between 2% and 5% of all pupils. There emerges a stable tendency to decrease in the last years, which is an especially positive moment and an indicator of the efforts that are made by teachers and schools for these pupils. The picture for grade 1 is especially indicative in this respect. It shows the following results:

Table No 14 Repeaters in first primary grade (not available)

As seen, the number of the repeating pupils at the beginning of the period (in 1990, 91, 92) is too high, especially in 1991 when it reaches 6,118 children. This is 1.5 to 2 children each in every school, bearing in mind that schools of general education in the country are about 3,500 (see Table No. 15). This number and percentage in relation to the total number of pupils is not that high, but when one fights for the successful education of each child, it can be said that the number of repeating pupils is considerable. There is a lack of differentiated information about the reasons for the repetition by pupils who have obtained a poor mark for their results in grade 1, which does not allow to judge if it is due to inaccessibility, complexity and difficulty of the learning contents, to retarded intellectual development of a part of the children, to health or other reasons. It can, however, be shown that teachers in primary grades, and especially in grade 1, make a lot of efforts to make literate and teach every child and that it completes successfully the school year. In our country, there exist traditions that after completing the school year the teachers teach additionally, individually the children who have accumulated omissions in their instruction and a great part of the pupils threatened to repeat the grade complete it successfully.

In grade 2, however, a higher stability of the number and percentage of repeating pupils during the period 1990-98 is seen and it varies between 3,400 and 4,600 pupils. There is a highest percentage of repeating pupils in 1995/96 - 4.30%, and lowest in 1990/91 - 3.21%. We should note that in grade 2 the percentage of repeaters in the last years stays about 4% (3.99% for 1996/97 and 4.09% for 1997/98). Having in mind that in grade 1 remain to repeat pupils who have smaller intellectual capacities, in grade 2 this percentage could be lower. This may mean that the work of the teachers with these pupils is not sufficient.

As a stable positive tendency to considerable decrease of the number of repeating pupils can be reported the picture in grades 3 and 4 (see Table No. 15). In grade 3, from 4,559 pupils or 4.19% repeating the grade in 1991/92 their number decreases in 1997/98 to 3,007 pupils or 2.84%. In grade 4, from 4,714 pupils - 4.68% pupils repeating the grade in 1993/94 their number in the last 1997/98 is 3,079 or 2.98%.

The rate of repeating pupils by grades and school years is shown in Table 16.

Table No 16 Rate of repeaters in primary school (not available)

From the table shown is seen that the rate of the repeating pupils in grade 1 is decreases in the last years from about 0.0512 in 1990/91 to 0.0267 in 1997/98. Such is the tendency in grades 3 and 4. The decrease is considerable, almost by half, which is a very positive moment. Certain retention and some increase of the rate in grade 2 is seen, however.

As a general conclusion, it can be noted that in all grades of primary school, in all school years, the boys repeating the grades are more that the girls. In some cases, this ratio is considerable and reaches up to 1 to 0.69 in 1996/97 and 1:0.66 in 1997/98. It is lower in 1993/94 1:0.60 and generally varies within 1:0.60 to 1:0.69.

The girls prove to be more diligent and studious than the boys and the rate of repeating girls varies from 0.0111 to 0.0216 and in the last years it considerably decreases. It is necessary that the teachers take more care of the boys, by increasing their responsibility for the performance of the school tasks and their motivation to study.

From the data shown about the repeating pupils during the period 1990-1998, following more important conclusions can be drawn:

* Percentage of pupils repeating grades in a given school year is a small part (from 2.80 to 5.64%) of all pupils instructed in initial grades of primary schools. At the same time, as a number of pupils, these are from 2,800 to 5,700 pupils who do not attain the acquisition of the compulsory educational minimum, do not cope with the learning contents studied and are the indicator of the failure of education system. These figures show that in primary schools, high requirements to quality of instruction are set and that it is not allowed that the pupils be automatically promoted from grade to grade without respective instruction. Observations of many teachers show that a great part of these pupil do not advance tangibly in the second year in which they repeat the given grade. It is rather a sanction for the pupil, affecting strongly his/her self-confidence and emotional sphere and in this sense it exercises influence on his/her motivation to study better.

* There emerges a positive tendency to decrease of the number of repeating pupils in the last years, that is indicative of the efforts made and care taken on the part of the teachers and schools.

* The reasons for the repetition of grades are various. For a part of the pupils it can be said that they are connected with their insufficient preparation for school. Another probable reason may be the complexity, difficulty and inaccessibility of the learning contents, but observations and analyses show that it is to a considerable degree in conformity with the age peculiarities of the pupils and may not be considered as a main reason. Part of the pupils repeat for reasons of health, another part are of Roma origin and from socially weak families. They are often absent from school because of a lack of clothing, shoes, food, remoteness of school, etc. They accumulate omissions and are behind in the instruction.

Bulgarian education system has established traditions, especially in primary grades, to treat with special care and attention the children who are behind in mastering the learning contents. The teachers carry out differentiated and individual work with them, work additionally to fill the gaps in their instruction and for their advance, but for part of the students their efforts do not come true. There is no, and it is especially necessary to perform medical and pedagogical diagnostics of the children on entering the school, to determine their general and intellectual development and readiness to enter the school, to fill gaps in their training and development as early as in the first year of their instruction. A number of schools perform their school diagnostics, but there are no national measurements, criteria and instruments for it. Still more specific efforts are also necessary for the instruction of each child, so that it studies in accordance with its capacities and succeeds.

Another especially important indicator characterizing the efficiency of the education system is the number of pupils who have been promoted to a higher grade in primary schools. This is the resultant indicator of the instruction, that shows both the effect of the instruction process and the accessibility of the learning contents, i. e. the taking into consideration of the age peculiarities and capacities of the pupils to acquire it and be instructed successfully.

What do the data about this indicator show for primary education?

The pupils promoted to a higher grade during the period 1990-1998 are over 90.61% and reach in individual grades up to 95.84% (see table No. 15). This is a too high result of instruction, that shows the efficiency of the activity of the teachers and schools.

In grades 1, this percentage is highest in 1995/96 - 93.89, and lowest - 92.16% - in 1992/93, but is within 92-94% and shows an increase in the last years. Taking into consideration that the pupils enter school without the performance of medical and pedagogical diagnostics, that is to determine their condition and readiness for school and a considerable part (about 50%) pass through the kindergartens, but even the half of the children are without preliminary instruction, it may be said that this percentage is too high. Its increase in the last 1996-98 to over 94.13% is indicative of the successfulness of the teaching methods and teachers’ professionalism.

In grades 2, the percentage of promoted to following grade reaches higher values - 95.84% in 1994/95. Also in these grades, the percentage is between 93-95%, shows a stability and slightly increases in the last years. (see the included Table No. 15)

Approximately within these limits vary the results also in the grades 3 and 4 - between 93 and 95%. The lowest percentage of pupils who have been promoted to a higher grade was found in grade 4 in 1994/95 - 90.61%, and the highest- in 1997/98 - 95.71%.

The high efficiency requires approach of these values to 100%, but the availability of pupils remaining to repeat the grade as well as dropping out shows that the school and the teachers have still to work for the survival of the pupils dropping out and for the successful instruction of the repeating ones.

The indicator of pupils dropping out according to statistical data is about 1-3% and only in some grades, in some school years it reaches up to 4-5%.

This indicator characterizes again the failure of the education, the inability of teachers and school to retain and motivate all or part of the pupils to continue their instruction, as well as the responsibility of the family to enforce the law on the compulsory education of children up to 16 years of age.

As seen from Table No. 15, this number of pupils is not very great. For individual grades, in individual years, the pupils dropping out reach up to 385 (grade 2) in 1993/94 or very low values - 0.80%. In other years, in other grades, there are also more significant values - 6,212 pupils - 5.89% in grade 4 in 1994/95. The prevailing number of pupils who have dropped out is between 1,000 and 3,000.

In grades 1, the lowest values of this indicator are observed in 1991/92 - 1.06%, and the highest - 4.10% - in 1994/95. An increase of the number of the pupils who have dropped out in the last years up to 3,400-3,600 or 3.20-3.25% in 1997/98 is being reported.

In grades 2, this number of pupils is considerably lower - from 0.80 to 1.93% and only in 1991/92 it reaches 3.39%. In grades 3, the indicator has also relatively low values: from 1.20% in 1993/94 to 2.67 in 1995/96, but it reaches in some years also 4.30% - in 1992/93. For example, in the last years, the number of the pupils who have dropped out decreases in grades 3.

In grades 4, the picture of the pupils who have dropped out is very heterogeneous (see Table No. 17).

Table No 17 Drop-outs in fourth grade (not available)

As seen, in some school years, the percentage of the pupils dropping out is very low, and in others - considerable. It cannot be said that there emerges a constant tendency to increase, it rather decreases in the last years, but in individual grades. For some school years it is too high for the conditions of the Bulgarian primary education.

The reasons for the drop-out of the pupils are reported in our statistics altogether for the whole school education and are not differentiated by classes. Most often, they are connected with the reluctance of the pupils to continue their education (12%), gone abroad (about 24%), transferred without confirmation of their enrolment in other school (11%), prolonged illness (1.9%), etc. A great part of the pupils dropping out are of Roma origin and leave for social reasons (unemployed parents, many children in the families, lack of clothing, shoes, food), as well as because of the low motivation to education. (Data is for 1996) Many schools collect donations for these pupils (clothing, shoes), organize through sponsorship free feeding in schools, look for support from nongovernmental organizations, from school boards of trustees, but these are incidental care. Extremely insufficient are the financial possibilities of the schools to organize a systematic supporting activity for the needing pupils in order to retain and instruct them. (27, p. 15)

As a whole, it can be said that the effectiveness of the instruction in primary schools is very good. About 92-95% of the pupils are promoted to higher grades and continue to be instructed together with their grade cohort. About 2 to 5% are the repeating pupils and almost so many are also the ones who have dispersed or are dropping out. For the initial grades, these rates are not that high, but when small pupils hide behind them, the school has to make more efforts to retain them at school and to instruct them effectively.

Some of the data can be represented in the following figures:

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