The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports Bulgaria

COHORT METHOD OF ANALYSIS OF EFFICIENCY

In carrying out the tasks of the reformation of the education system, there rises the interest to the cohort method.

On the basis of the basic principles shown in the technical guidelines for assessment of the work on education for all, as a cohort can be regarded the newly enrolled pupils in given school year in primary schools in the whole country. This aggregate of pupils is in constant development and change, on account of which we can determine it as a dynamic statistical aggregate. The events that occur with its participants are connected with the promotion to a higher grade, drop-out from school, repetition of a given grade, etc.

Because of the difficulties in using the real cohorts, with the model shown in Fig. 5 is examined the development of the pupil cohorts that have entered grade 1 in the school year 1991/92, by using the

Method of the recreated cohort

According to this method, for the pupils from a given grade in a given year are possible three outcomes:

- the greater part of them are promoted to a higher grade the following school year;

- another ones repeat the same grade the following school year;

- the remaining part drop out during the school year.

Recreated is the movement of a fictitious cohort of 1,000 pupils in the primary education cycle, i. e. the history of the 108,513 pupils who have entered the grade 1 in Bulgaria in the school year 1991/92. Thus, the original cohort is expressed as an index of 1,000 pupils and all other operations are further expressed at a ratio "to 1,000". In this way, when we examine the movement of the fictitious cohort of 1,000 pupils instead of the actual 6,118 pupils, we find that 56 pupils have repeated grade 1 or 5.6%, 11 have dropped out of the cohort or 1.1%, 933 have been promoted to grade 2 or 93.3%.

The indicators for repetition, drop-out and promotion can be calculated also for the grade 2, 3 and 4.

For grade 2 with a number of pupils 933:

- % of the repeating ones (38:933).100 - 4.07%

- % of the ones who have dropped out (12:933).100 - 1.3%

- % of the one promoted to grade 3 (833:933).100 - 94.6%.

For grade 3 with a number of pupils 883:

- % of the repeating ones (31:883).100 - 3.5%

- % of the ones who have dropped out (11:883).100 - 1.2%

- % of the ones promoted to grade 4 (841:883).100 - 95.2%.

For grade 4 with a number of pupils 841:

- % of the repeaters (29:841).100 - 3.4%

- % of the drop-outs (50:841).100 - 5.9%

- % of the promotees to grade 5 (762:841).100 - 90.6%.

On the basis of the shown movement of the cohort of 1,000 pupils in grade 1 in the school year 1991/92, the following more important conclusions for the degree of survival of the original pupil cohort at the end of the primary education can be drawn:

- From the original pupil cohort of 1,000 pupils, 762 have completed primary education without repeating any of the grades or 76.2%,

- 132 pupils have completed primary education with 1 year delay or 13.2%,

- 13 pupils have completed primary education with 2 years delay or 1.3%,

- no pupil has repeated three times,

- from the original pupil cohort of 1,000 pupils, 907 or 90,7% have completed successfully their primary education.

Besides the above-mentioned indicators for promotion and repetition by grades and for degree of survival of the pupil cohort at the end of the primary education (the ones who have successfully graduated in time and with delay), another indicators of efficiency can also be calculated:

- % of the ones who have completed primary education with delay [(132 + 13) : 1,000]. 100 = 14.5%

- % of the ones who have repeated one school year during the given school stage (132:1000).100 = 13.2%,

- % of the ones who have repeated two school years during the given school stage (13:1000) = 1.3%,

- % of the ones who have dropped out during the primary education by comparing them with the original pupils cohort (11 + 12+ 11 + 50+ 9):1000/.100 = 9.3%,

- % of the repeaters who have dropped out - through their comparison with the total number of pupils who have dropped out during the whole period of the primary education (9:93).100 = 9.7%,

- ideal number of pupil-years necessary to complete primary education (907.4 = 3628),

- coefficient of efficiency - it is obtained by comparing the ideal (3628) and the actual number (4090) of pupil-years used by the cohort (3628:4090) = 0.877 or 88.70%),

- total of invested pupil-years for the successful completion of the primary education of 1 pupil are obtained by dividing the total number of pupil-years used by the cohort (4090) by the total number of the ones who have graduated (907) = 4.51% years.

The necessary number of years per 1 graduate can be compared with the ideal number of necessary years, which is the duration of the primary education - 4 years (4.51:4) = 1.12. The ideal case is when there are neither repeating ones nor ones who have dropped out. Then, the value of this ratio is minimum and is equal to one - 1.

As it should be expected, the biggest group of pupils from the primary pupils cohort in the school year 1991/92 is from the one who have completed successfully the primary education - 90.7%. 93 pupils have dropped out or 9.3%. Out of them, 50 pupils or 5%, i. e. more than the half have dropped out in grade 4. This, of course, does not mean that one day these pupils will not be enrolled again to continue the education, but then their development will be observed in other cohorts.

The method of the recreated cohort has been used to calculate the indicators Nos. 13 and 14 in Table No. 9 (from the statistical tables), which means that one should have in mind the considerations in its application. The movement of 8 original pupil cohorts from 1986/1987 to 1993/1994 has been completely tracked, and separately the movement of the cohorts for boys and girls. According to the example of the already analyzed cohort with original pupil cohort from 1991/1992, analyses by the same indicators can be done also for all remaining cohorts.

Indicator 13. Survival of a pupil cohort to grade 5

With Indicator 13 is calculated the percentage of the pupils who have started their education in grade 1 in a given school year, reached and enrolled in grade 5, i.e. the percentage of the pupils from a given cohort, who have completed grade 4 and have enrolled in grade 5. With it, one aims at determining the internal efficiency of the education system, its ability to retain the original pupil cohort. The special interest in it is determined by the fact that the instruction during the first four yeas is decisive for reaching a permanent level of literacy.

As seen from the data in Table No. 9 (from the statistical tables), the total percentage of the ones who have reached grade 5 varies between 89.31% for the school year 1994/1995 and 93.07% for the school year 1995/1996.

The percentage of the boys enrolled in grade 5 is higher than the total percentage and varies between 90.34% in the school year 1998/1999 and 94.44% in the school year 1995/1996.

The percentage of the girls enrolled in grade 5 is lower than the total percentage and varies between 87.2% in the school year 1994/1995 and 91.59% in the school year 1995/1996.

The ratio between sexes is shown in column No. 11 of Table No. 9 (from the statistical tables). With the exception of the last year observed - 1998/1999, where the ratio is in favour of the girls - 1:1.01, during the remaining years it is in favour of the boys: from 1:0.96 in 1994/1995 and 1996/1997 to 1:0.99 in the school year 1997/1998. Irrespective of the fact that the difference that reaches up to 0.03 points is not significant, it exists and should be noted.

Indicator 14. Coefficient of efficiency

The coefficient of efficiency is a synthetic indicator of the internal efficiency of the education system. It reflects the effect of grade repetition and drop-out from school on efficiency.

As shown, the coefficient of efficiency is obtained by comparing the ideal number and the actual number of pupil-years used by the cohort. For example, the coefficient of efficiency in grade 5 for the school year 1990/1991 is determined in the following way:

- overall - 3,620 (ideal number of pupil-years): 3,981 (actual number of pupil-years). 100 = 90.93%

- boys - (3664:3995).100 = 91.71%

- girls - (3580:3968).100 = 90.22%.

The method of the recreated cohort has been used, as already shown.

The coefficient of efficiency in grade 5 has been further calculated in the same way and is shown in columns Nos. 5, 6 and 7 of Table No. 9 (from the statistical tables).

Table No 18 Coefficient of efficiency for grade 5 (not available)

The highest is the coefficient of efficiency for the school year 1996/1997 - 91.31% - 917 pupils have successfully completed their primary education or 91.7%, 785 or 78.5% of whom without repeating a school years, 120 or 12% - with one year delay and 12 or 1.2% - with 2 years delay. The number of the pupils who have dropped out is 74 r 7.4% of the ones promoted without repeating and 9 or 0.9% of the repeaters, i. e. a total of 83 or 8.3%.

The lowest is the coefficient of efficiency for the school year 1993/1994 - 87.75%. 890 pupils or 89% have successfully completed primary education, 753 or 75.3% of whom without repeating a school year, 123 or 12.3% - with one school year delay and 14 or 1.4% - with two years delay.

The number of the pupils dropping out is 98 or 9.8% of the ones promoted without repeating and 12 or 1.2% of the repeaters, a total of 110 pupils or 11%.

The coefficient of efficiency in case of boys varies between 85.97 for the school year 1993/1994 and 90.87% for the school year 1996/1997. The ones who dropped out in 1993/94 are 118 or 11.8%, and in 1996/97 - 74 or 7.4%.

The boys who successfully completed with one year delay in 93/94 are 128 or 12.8%, and with two - 19 or 1.9%. The ones how successfully completed with one year delay in 1996/97 are 139 or 13.9%, and with two - 16 or 1.6%.

The coefficient of efficiency in case of girls varies between 88.25% for the school year 1992/93 and 91.5% for the school year 1996/97. The ones who dropped out in 1992/93 are 136 or 13.6%, and in 1996/97 are 98 or 9.8%.

The girls who successfully completed with one year delay in 1992/93 are 120 or 12%, and with two - 12 or 1.2%. In 1996/97 by one year behind are 96 or 9.6%, and by two - 7 or 0.7%.

The coefficient of efficiency in primary education is shown in columns Nos. 8, 9 and 10 of Table No. 9 (from the statistical tables):

Table No 19 Coefficient of efficiency in primary education (not available)

The highest is the coefficient of efficiency in primary education in 1990/91 - 91.5%. It is higher even than the highest coefficient of efficiency in grade 5 during the period examined. In that year, the highest is the coefficient of efficiency in primary school for the boys- 91.53%. For girls, however, the highest coefficient of efficiency remains 1993/94 - 92.6% - higher than the overall highest coefficient - 91.5%.

The lowest overall coefficient of efficiency in primary education is that for 1995/96 - 88.7%, that is higher than the lowest coefficient in grade 5. The coefficient of efficiency in case of boys remains with a lowest value in the school year 1993/94 - 86.07%, that is anyway higher than the coefficient of efficiency in grade 5.

The coefficient of efficiency for the girls is lowest in 1991/92 - 89.54% - also higher than that for the girls in grade 5.

On the basis of the data about the movement of the pupil in the cohorts used, one can calculate the overall invested pupil-years for a successful completion of primary education by a pupil and the necessary number of years per graduate.

Table No 20 Total pupil-years for completion of primary education by one pupil and number of years needed (not available)

As seen in Table 20, the values of both indicators - overall invested pupil-years for the successful completion of primary education by a pupil and the resulting from it coefficient of the necessary number of years per graduate, are better at the beginning of the period examined, deteriorate in 1992-1996, after which an improvement follows. The differences are more tangible at the beginning, at the end and the middle of the period - between 4.38 for 1996/97 and 4.56 for 1993/94.

Some conclusions from the cohort analysis of efficiency:

-According to data from cohorts examined, whose coefficient of efficiency is reflected in table No. 9 (from the statistical tables), the highest is the number of the pupils who have dropped out in grades 3 and 4, and the lowest - in grade 2, followed by grade 1. This is positive from the point of view of acquisition of basic knowledge and skills with respect to literacy.

- The coefficient of efficiency in grade 5 is higher at the beginning of the decade analyzed(about 90%), there follows a decrease about at the middle of the period and again increase at its end.

- The school year 1996/97 is with the highest coefficient of efficiency in primary education - for boys and for girls - respectively: 90.87%, 91.5%.

- The coefficient of efficiency in primary education is, in general, higher than the coefficient for grade 5. The highest is the one for the girls and at that with highest values in the middle of the period - 92.6% in 1993/94 and 92% in 1994/95.

- The coefficient of efficiency for the girls is higher in both cases. This is due to the smaller number of repeaters, hence the smaller number of actual pupil-years used by the cohort.

An extremely important question that is posed in connection with the reduction of the number of the pupils who drop out and the repeaters is the explanation of the reasons, i. e. the processes should be examined not only ass a whole, but also in connection with the reasons that have caused them, as well as their evolution across grades. A longer observation will contribute to analyzing the significance of individual factors in a given period of time and to check if those factors retain their essentiality over another periods of time.

In view of the possibilities of the cohort method for deepening the analysis of the efficiency of the education system, its use is recommended for retrospective and prognostic analyses with the purpose of improving the planning of pupil cohort, economy of time and financial means.

Indicator 15. Percentage of pupils having reached at least grade 4 of primary schooling who have mastered the nationally defined necessary basic competencies. Percentage of pupils having successfully completed grade 4.

This indicator covers the percentage of pupils who have successfully completed grade 4 or the first initial stage of the primary education and have the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies according to national criteria. It characterizes the achievements, the effectiveness of the instruction in primary school with respect to the minimum basic knowledge and analytical habits that have to have been mastered by the pupils by this grade. The percentage of the pupils having successfully completed grade 4 allows to assess the overall efficiency of primary education and its significance as a basis of the further schooling of pupils.

What does data about this indicator show? (see table No. 21)

Table No 21 IV grade promotees (not available)

The data shows that the percentage of the pupils having successfully completed grade 4 during the period examined exceeds 90%, and for individual years it reaches up to 94.80-95.71%. This is a very good achievement of the Bulgarian primary school. The good results are traditional and to a great extent due to the professionalism of the primary school teachers, to their high responsibility and care of every child. They are indicative also of the accessibility and masterability of the learning contents. A stable tendency to decrease of the number and percentage of pupils repeating grade 4 in the last years (see Table 22) has been determined.

Table No 22 IV grade repeaters and drop-outs (not available)

As seen from the data shown, the percentage of the repeaters varies from 4.68 in 1993/94 to 2.98 in 1997/98.

The number of the pupils having dropped out during the period 1993-1998 is not big, too. As percentage, it varies between 1.18 and 5.89%, but over the years there prevail the low values under 2%.

The pupils having successfully completed grade 4 master the basic knowledge, skills and competencies defined by national criteria. They acquire good initial schooling in Bulgarian language and mathematics, in national history and natural history, in music, fine arts, way of living and technologies and in physical culture and sports. In many schools, early foreign language schooling has been introduced, other schools are specialized in the field of sports.

The results from the instruction are assessed by different forms of check, performed by the teachers, and in 1997/98, national measurements of Bulgarian language and literature and mathematics, covering also the pupils form grade 4, were carried out.

The analysis of the results of those measurements confirms the assessments and inferences made here about the effectiveness of primary education, but as a whole they are lower than the data shown about the percentage of the pupils having successfully completed grade 4.

Indicator 16. Literacy level of 15-24 year olds

According to the valid law on public education, the education until the age of 16 is compulsory. This is also the main prerequisite for the insignificant number of illiterate persons in the Republic of Bulgaria. Proverbial is the love of the Bulgarian to learning and education and his striving to study. As early as the beginning of the 50s, activities were undertaken and carried out to make the adult population literate, that cannot read and write. By 1990, the illiterate people are very limited in number.

The number of population aged 15-24 in 1992 is 1,228,613 people, of which women 601,996.

As literate have defined themselves 1,218,806 people, of which 1,264 have not marked anything in the column illiterate.

Therefore:

Literacy level

L9215-24

LIT 9215-24 = . 100 = .100 = 99,2 %, where P9215-24

- the number of the literate population aged 15 to 24, without including in it the number of those who have not replied to the question about literacy;

- the number of the whole population aged 15 to 24 in 1992.

On the basis of this data, we can determine that the percentage of the illiterate women aged 15 to 24 in 1992 is: 100 = 0,8 %,

and the literacy level is: =respectively for men; percentage of illiterate men is: 100 = 0,7 %, and the literacy level is 99.28%.

According to this indicator, the respective data for towns and villages is:

In towns:

total: 906,005 people

illiterate: 5,516 people

percentage of illiterate persons in towns - 0.6%

of which men total: 455,664 people

illiterate: 2,375 people

percentage of illiterate men in towns - 0,5%

women total: 450,341 people

illiterate: 3,141 people

percentage of illiterate women in towns - 0,7%

in villages:

total: 322,608 people

illiterate: 4,291 people

percentage of illiterate persons in villages - 1,3%

of which men total: 170,953 people

illiterate: 2,086 people

percentage of illiterate men in villages - 1,2%

women total: 151,655 people

illiterate: 2,205 people

percentage of illiterate women in villages - 1,45%.

The data thus given, shows a high literacy level of population in the age bracket 15-24 years old. This is an "active age" for obtaining secondary, postsecondary, college and higher educational degree. as well as for obtaining or expanding the professional qualification.

From the total number of population aged between 15 and 24, in the age bracket 15-19 years old - 387 people (0.06%) have completed college education, 56,843 people (8.43%) - secondary specilaized education, 120,984 people (19.03%) - secondary general education, 403,834 people (63.5%) - primary, 40,763 people (6.4%) - elementary, and 6,956 people (1.1%) are with incomplete elementary education. (8) In the bracket 20-24 years - 15,792 (2.66%) have completed higher, 21,703 (3.66%) - college, 19,145 (3.22%) - secondary specialized, and 237,309 (40.02%) - secondary general education, 102,328 people (17.26%) - primary education, 16,550 people (2.8%) - elementary, and 3,978 people (0.007%) are with incomplete elementary education. (8)

The highest is the percentage of illiterate women in villages - 1.45%.

In comparison with towns, the illiteracy rate in villages is almost 2 times higher. This is characteristic both of the total number of population and of the ratio town-village for men and, respectively, for women.

There exists, however, another probability - a great part of the population that has defined itself as illiterate may have another mother tongue besides Bulgarian. Unfortunately, there exist no data if those people can read and write, e. g. in Turkish, Hebrew or another language that is actually for them a mother tongue.

The main conclusion is that the population aged 15-24 years old has a very high literacy level and is involved to a considerable extent in the form and degrees of the education system.

Indicator 17. Adult Literacy Rate

The first official data on literacy after 1990 are from 1992 when a census was taken. In this census people themselves assessed whether they are literate or not. The data are shown in Table No 25.

The only official statistic data both for Indicator 16 and Indicator 17 are from 1992.

Based on the so shown data, the numbers in "Indicator 17" – "Literacy Rate" are the following:

for 1992:

The total population is 6,869,968, of which 6,717,013 people have identified themselves as literate, therefore:

LIT = 97%

This proves that the majority of the population in Bulgaria is literate.

The data comparison of two consecutive censuses taken in 1985 and 1992 clearly outlines the educational features of Bulgarian population, as well as some major trends.(5)

Table No 23 Level of completed education (not available)

The majority of young people /15-29 years old/ have higher, college and secondary education. The differences in the level of education are important to understand not only the current educational situation, but also the tendencies towards change of the educational status of major groups in Bulgarian society. In the late years, most of the young people aim to achieve a higher educational level, which is a reason to expect a considerable increase of the rate of high educational level graduates.

Table No 24 Students in Bulgarian Universities (not available)

Indicator 18. Literacy Gender Parity Index

Based on the data in Table No 25 and 26, female illiteracy is 2.5 times and Science higher at an average than male illiteracy. The illiteracy ratio of people living in towns and in villages is 1:4, i.e. the number of illiterate people living in villages is 4 times and Science higher.

From the total population of 6,869,968, literate women are 3,293,947 and literate men are 3,423,066. Therefore, "Indicator 18" – "Literacy Gender Parity Index" equals to:

LGPI = 98.3%

Compared to men, the number of women with basic knowledge and skills is lower, but the rate of illiterate women as a whole is not significant.

According to data from UNESCO on these same indicators for 1995 (see Table No 26), the illiteracy rate has decreased almost by one half and the male-female ratio is 1:1.06. Respectively the "literacy level" is:

LIT = 98%, and Indicator 18 – "Literacy Gender Parity Index" LGPI = 98.7%.

Female illiteracy is typical mainly for Muslim women who live in the mountain regions and profess the Muslim faith, as well as for women from the Gypsy minority. The reason for this may be sought both in the religious prejudices typical not only for the Turkish population in Bulgaria, and in some events related to the movement of groups of such people from one country to another (the migration of Bulgarian Turks). It can be assumed, since there is no official research and statistics on the matter, that children of emigrants who moved to Turkey at the end of the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s and who have not been enrolled in first grade in Bulgarian schools, cannot write and read in Bulgarian. However, this does not mean that they are illiterate, since they have probably attended schools during their stay in Turkey. Bulgarian Muslims have always had an extremely positive attitude towards education and training.

More serious is the problem with the literacy of people from the Gypsy minority who "traditionally" are not particularly willing to attend school. As is generally known, these are people who tend to change their place of residence quite often and this causes certain inconvenience and unwillingness to deal with problems concerning the education and training of their descendants. According to data of the National Statistical Institute, the Gypsy ethnic group comprises 3.7% or 314,000 people and is concentrated mainly in the towns.

One part of the National Program for Adult Education treats such issues as the study of problems concerning illiteracy and the specific measures which should be taken to solve these problems. In fulfilling the above intentions, the program’s main objective is to bring closer the activities of formal and informal institutions on the basis of equal partnership.

Table No 25 Year 1992

Table ¹ 26 Year 1995 (data of UNESCO)

7. EFFICIENCY OF THE STRATEGY, THE PLAN AND THE PROGRAMS FOR EDUCATION FOR ALL

The basic achievements since 1990 are related to:

* Promotion of the democratization and humanization of education; decentralization of its administration; expanding the freedom of schools and teachers at solving pedagogical problems; increasing the rights and opportunities for choice for pupils, teachers and parents; ensuring considerable freedom of action in schools.

* Development of new legislation for the education system.

The following acts have been passed: Public Education Act (PEA), Higher Education Act (HEA), Fight Against Anti-Social Deeds of Minors Act, Local Self-Government And Local Administration Act, Level of Education, General Education Minimum and Curriculum Act, School Boards Act (in Parliament), Rules for the Application of the Public Education Act, and others.

* Outlining the priorities in the general school education system.

The emphasis is put on several basic activities:

- There are ongoing changes in the general educational curriculum in relation with: expanding the early foreign language education; integration of information and communication technologies in the educational process; provision of civil and economic knowledge, teaching of democratic values.

Six years ago a curriculum for early foreign language education, starting from the first primary grade, was introduced in about 50 schools of general education. Currently new types of curriculums, training documentation and appliances are being tested, and the necessity of staff and resources is being analyzed.

The condition and level of integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Bulgarian school education have been studied. A national strategy and a program for its implementation is developed. It involves representatives of the educational and scientific circles, employers, professional associations, representatives of different ministries and institutions.

Different programs for civil education and economics and management are actively employed in the training process. Teams on international projects, the National Institute for Education , the Open Education Center etc. are involved in this activity.

The purpose of the educational programs and contents is to provide greater availability and to develop personal and socially significant skills, as well as co-operation and team-work skills.

* Enrolling and retaining of school-age children in school.

The enrollment and retaining of all pupils in school is subject to regular and strict control. Efforts are made on all levels of administration of the education system – in schools, municipalities, education inspectorates and

* Perfection of professional education and training.

Unified requirements of professional qualification are introduced regardless of the type of the educational institution. State educational requirements for acquiring qualification on 18 occupations through module structuring of the educative material are established. At present schools and professional education centers on one hand, and ministries, institutions, employer organizations, companies registered in accordance with the Bulgarian legislation and other education and qualification organizations on the other hand, are given equal authority to conduct professional qualification courses, which provides opportunities for vocational training of people from all age groups. Social partners participate on all levels of preparation, organization and evaluation of vocational training by ensuring personnel qualification. 13-year old pupils of compulsory school age have the opportunity to acquire professional qualification according to special programs.

* Assessing pupils’ achievements on the exit of educational levels.

This is one of the priority issues of the school education system. A system of assessing pupils’ achievements on a national level is currently under elaboration.

National surveys on education efficiency are performed in order to monitor the level of assimilation of the educative material, its comprehensibility and effectiveness.

In 1999 national surveys on the main subjects – Bulgarian and Mathematics – were carried out in fourth and eighth grades.

The results show a good level of assimilation of the educative material by a considerable part of elementary school pupils, as well as education comprehensibility. Meanwhile, the rate of pupils, who have failed to cope successfully with the tasks, is also high. Schools, teachers and parents of such pupils make great efforts to help them graduate successfully the respective levels of education and continue their education in the next ones.

A unified system for assessing the professional competence of graduates from professional schools on a national level is being developed. For three years a research team of the National Education Institute together with the social partners have been experimenting on a system of procedures for assessing the professional qualification in five professions. The experimental results prove the opportunity, on one hand, to regulate the relationship among the separate institutions responsible for assessing the achievements of pupils in professional schools and to establish a dialogue among them, and on the other hand, to increase the reliability and validity of the assessment on a national level, to help for improving the teaching and comprehension of the educative material and to monitor the dynamics in pupils’ progress by diagnosing their achievements.

* Improving the quality of pedagogical personnel in the education system.

During the reviewed period (1990-1999) the number of highly qualified teachers with higher education increased considerably. In 1998 it reaches 74% for the entire education system and 56.53% for elementary education. Changes in the system for initial and sustained qualification of pedagogical personnel, based on the present requirements towards school education, have been given priority. Efforts are made with a view to renovate the system for increasing the professional qualification, aimed at its decentralization and at enhancing its efficiency.

In the last years, professional schools employed teachers in special subjects: professional engineers, economists, agronomists, etc. who had been dismissed from project organizations, companies and enterprises because of the recession in production. Those specialists acquired pedagogical capacity in the pedagogical departments of technical universities. Their employment in the education system contributed for increasing the share of highly qualified teachers with affluent experience in production. Using a grant received under the PHARE Program, Instructors Qualification Centers have been built with the purpose of updating and expanding the qualification of teachers and other professional trainers.

* Innovation of the education system’s functions.

The last decade is a period of mass introduction of innovations based on the national achievements and experience of developed countries in educational management and in the content, technologies and organization of pupils’ education. This results in increasing the quality of education.

8. MAJOR PROBLEMS

The basic issues of Education for All are related to the following categories:

Enrollment of pupils in compulsory school age

Enrollment of all pupils of compulsory school age and retaining them in schools is a difficult task. There are various reasons, most of which lie outside the education system – economic, social, ethno-cultural, etc. This creates additional impediments for controlling the situation.

In the period 1990-1998 the number of pupils who have not entered or have untimely left school increases. The rate of pupils not enrolled in first grade varied from 0.65% to 1.85%. Pupils, who were not enrolled in grade 1 to 4, were from 0.3% to 1.99%, and those who dropped out of elementary school were from 0.8% to 5.89% depending on the grade and the school year. The total number of pupils dropped out of elementary school in 1997/98 is 8,507 or about 2%.

The main reasons for this condition are social and economic. There are no adequate incentives to attend school, especially for children from risk families, low-cultured or from some Gypsy communities. Many schools are not sufficiently flexible and attractive and often fail to satisfy the interests and expectations of children.

During the reviewed period the number of children enrolled in kindergartens has decreased. At present it is 58%. In some previous periods it has reached 90%. The main reason is the impoverishment of the population and especially of young parents who are often unemployed.

The decrease in population and the strong migration and emigration processes are serious problems for the Bulgarian education.

Repeaters

There is a certain growth in the number of repeaters. Their rate in the different school years and grades varies from 2.76% to 5.12%. The percentage is not low, as in elementary schools traditionally the education and progress of each child are handled with great care. The reasons for the failure of some children may lie in the complex and unintelligible educative material, the insufficient work with these pupils or in some social aspect.

Exercise of the universal education right of children

As stated in Art. 53, the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria guarantees equal access to education. All children are equal before the law. It is necessary to make every endeavour to integrate pupils to the schools and to offset the lag through higher professionalism and motivation on the part of instructors.

Changes in the established system of remuneration and introduction of alternative funding sources for the stimulation of teachers, managers and school communities are required.

Some of the established traditions and methods of administration restrict the opportunity to create a new image of the school. There is a demand for purposeful amending measures and actions on a national, regional and municipal level. In some regions or separate schools the necessary conditions are not secured (lack of qualified teachers, funds, etc.) and the universal education right is not exercised to the estimated extent. The reasons are of different nature and are caused by unsolved and arising economic or social problems. Some of them are due to particular weaknesses in the professional views and criteria of teachers and the expectations of parents and the social environment.

Funding of the education for all

The major problem of the education system, included in the activity "Education for All", is the extremely insufficient funding of education. The stipulated share of education spending in GDP decreased from 6.06% in 1992 to 3.2% in 1997/98 (the percentage is according to the State Budget Act). This is due to the difficulties which Bulgarian economy experiences at present. The financial restrictions have a negative impact on the functioning and outcome of education: the funds for national and school surveys and assessment of pupils’ achievements are insufficient, which influences administrative decisions, the education system lacks funds for the introduction of innovations and reconstruction of the facilities. Teachers’ salaries are low and in some regions not regularly paid, which restrains teachers from giving their best in the working process. No funds have been allocated for the development and successive introduction of issues and national projects significant for the basic education. No national structures for the assessment of pupils’ achievements have been established. There are no funds for consulting services and for the organization of out-of-school and extracurricular activities which are interesting and attractive for the children.

Introduction of information and communication technologies

The most painful problems for the introduction of education on information and communication technologies concern the facilities and the training of teachers.

The survey of the National Institute for Education in 1997 outlined the following situation:

The surveyed schools have at their disposition an average number of 10.45 working 8- or 16-bit computers and 1.47 working printers. In these schools the average number of pupils per 1 working computer (8- or 16-bit) is 26.83, and per 1 working 16-bit computer it is 69.64. Having in mind, that in elementary and primary schools the available computers are few, the above indicators in relation to all Bulgarian schools, regardless of their type, are drastically worse. Only few of the Bulgarian schools covered by the survey have networks – 120, of which 17 in Sofia. About 50 schools, also mainly in Sofia, are connected to the Internet. No service of the equipment is provided. The obsolete equipment, as well as its quantity, does not allow for a modern education and application of ICTs. Schools still use unlicensed software. The Ministry of Education and Science has already taken measures to solve this problem. The used software in its prevailing part does not correspond to the modern development and application of ICTs in the various social spheres. Multimedia and software for solving of educative problems in different subjects are barely introduced.

Usually in schools where computer science or information technologies are taught, there is only one teacher in these subjects. Teachers in other subjects are not sufficiently qualified to use ICTs in their work. The opportunities to improve their qualification are few. Teachers as a whole are quite unwilling to learn about ICTs and their integration in the educational process.

The solution of these two major problems requires a lot of funds, the provision of which is hindered by the difficult economic situation.

Bulgaria has good traditions in the area of formal general and professional education. Nevertheless, a quite large number of people, for one reason or another, fail to obtain a diploma for primary and/or secondary education, as well as for professional qualification.

The transition towards market economy set the economic factors in full motion, as a result of which labour supply exceeded demand significantly. In these conditions, employers prefer and have the opportunity to employ highly qualified specialists. The demand for education and qualification services has increased, as:

the politics and economy of the Republic of Bulgaria, which are now open towards Europe and the world, need education and qualification consistent with European requirements;

the forthcoming restructuring of the economy lays much higher requirements to the qualification of working people;

the unemployed see their chance for realization on the labour market in obtaining or supplementing their qualification;

the employed strive to keep their jobs by improving their own qualification;

society as a whole acknowledges the necessity to constantly improve the level of knowledge and skills with a view to the economic, technological and socio-cultural development and the requirements of democracy to guarantee people’s rights and freedom.

This demand for education and qualification services aroused the entrepreneurial spirit of Bulgarians. As a result many companies have been established, the main or supporting activity of which is education and qualification, regretfully in many cases not competent enough. Companies organize education, issue certificates, and afterwards pseudo-qualified people come to the labour market and naturally fail to achieve realization. By 1990, adult qualification was provided for in Decree 42 of the Council of Ministers – "For a Unified National System of Personnel Qualification". Since 1991, professional training of pupils and adults has been regulated by the Public Education Act, and in December 1997 the Protection of Unemployed and Promotion of Employment Act came into effect. Despite the presence of these acts, there are still too many methodical, organizational and regulatory needs (government educational standards by professions, government standards for qualification in a single profession, a network of licensed educational units, and regulations for training and practicing of professions that require capacity). By solving these problems, the process of education will be regulated and control over the input and output of the qualification system will be established.

Apparently, the basic problems are typically related with the insufficiency of funds for educational activities, as well as with the country’s economic and social difficulties. The system of education has the potential to cope with the other pedagogical, methodical, organizational and administrative problems.

9. PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE, POLITICAL WILL AND INTERNATIONAL

SUPPORT

Favourable social support

The provision of basic education for all is met with general political support. There is a political will to carry out reforms in the area of education in order to conform it to the up-to-date requirements and European dimensions. There are competent state authorities and institutions, the purpose of which is to conduct an efficient educational policy. Related institutions, authorities and organizations from the fields of economy, labour, commerce and healthcare also contribute to the implementation of the reforms.

There is also favourable intellectual and scientific environment: a developed network of universities, the Bulgarian Academy of Science, the National Education Institute, and specialized science and research organizations. Education is deemed one of the priority areas of government policy. However, this is not taken into consideration in the state budget. Educational activities are performed in the conditions of financial restrictions.

Therefore, there is a constant quest for opportunities to secure additional funds from non-governmental organizations, international and national foundations, economic organizations and associations and others. In the last years this activity has gathered speed and has gained greater social significance and support. The Ministry of Education and Science and schools contact NGOs on a national and local level and take part in the development and realization of projects and programs related with:

-creation of social mechanisms for support and introduction of educational changes;

-civic education;

-rationalizing and engaging of pupils’ leisure time;

-stimulation and development of their creative potentials;

-special assistance to children at risk and with behavioral divergences, aimed at their socialization and re-socialization;

-instruction on the problems of drug addiction, AIDS, healthy way of living, etc.;

-social aid;

-popular persuasion of parents not motivated to educate their children.

This is a relatively new activity for Bulgaria, which has appeared in the years of change. Its contribution for the renewal of social interest in education may be great.

International support for putting education for all in conformity with   the European and global dimensions

Bulgarian schools endeavour to acquaint pupils with the European and global cultural values. The Republic of Bulgaria highly appreciates, supports and contributes to the development of international co-operation in implementing the educational programs of UNESCO, the European Union, the Council of Europe and other international organizations. The reviewed period (1990-1999) is known for the development of a modern democratic civil society and is characterized by extensive exchange of information and experience with the industrial European and other countries, implementation of leading projects with the financial co-operation of international organizations, performance of theoretical and experimental research, organization of international forums. There are many examples of the broad international support to Bulgaria at the realization of Education for All. In the autumn of 1994 PHARE’s educational programs were initiated. A unit for the administration of the program "PHARE – Education" was established at the Ministry of Education and Science. In the conditions of financial destabilization and crisis, four national structural programs were started and concluded successfully. These were: "Bulgaria – Educational Sector Reform" for 1 million ECU; "Professional Education and Training, Reform in Education, Science and Technologies" for 9 million ECU; "Development, Evaluation and Accreditation Program" and "Drop-out Pupils", "Management Education Program" for 1.35 million ECU.

Of particular significance for the enrollment of all children in the system of education is the PHARE project "School for Everyone". The objective of the project is to help solve the problem with drop-outs through the development of operational practical models for work with these children in various regions of the country. In the long run the project envisages that the activities and results from it serve as a basis for the creation of an efficient organization and policy with regard to drop-outs, and that the established structures with their material and personnel resources continue to function. The creation of a credible information database for drop-outs in Bulgaria has also been planned. This implies the conduct of a new survey. The project’s strategy is determined by the effort to achieve maximum enrollment of children in schools through the development of adequate and relative methods, forms and conditions motivating pupils to return and remain at school.

The World Decade of Cultural Development (1988-1997), announced at the 41st session of the United Nations’ General Assembly, assisted for the activation of efforts for increasing the contribution of education to cultural development. Bulgarian experience in this regard is quite interesting and full of traditions. It was subject to separate consideration in the joint European research under the program of UNESCO (1990-1997) (with the National Institute for Education as a coordinator) on: "The Interaction Among Schools and Cultural Environment for the Education of Pupils", with the participation of Belgium, Germany, Greece, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Finland, the Netherlands, Macedonia, France, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The whole long-year, broad and diverse activity on the project contributed for acknowledging the significance of the cultural dimensions of progress; establishing and enriching cultural originality; expanding the participation of pupils in cultural life through the various forms of interaction among schools and cultural institutions; and promoting the international co-operation with 14 European countries. Three publications were distributed during the International Education Conference (1992) and at sessions of the General Conference of UNESCO.

In November 1996, the project of the Bulgarian National Committee for UNICEF "Children Also Have Rights" was initiated in the town of Stara Zagora. It was carried out within the framework of UNICEF’s program "Education for Progress" and started with the presentation of a practical guidance of UNICEF aimed at acquainting Bulgarians with the Children’s Rights Convention. The National Committee for UNICEF through its structures in the country – the clubs "Friends of UNICEF" – also conducts a systematic and purposeful policy to educate children and adults, and to popularize and acknowledge the Convention as part of our lives. For this purpose various forms are used: holidays – summer and winter schools, seminars, inquiries, etc.

The Open Education Center, a leading non-governmental organization in the field of education, together with the Council of Europe, UNESCO, UNDP and other organizations, develops national and international programs for Bulgaria and the whole region in the area of civil education, instruction on human rights, intercultural co-operation, etc.

In the last two years, the Socrates National Agency and one national and several regional units for coordination of the Leonardo da Vinci Program were established. Their activity involves intense information services and education particularly on the training of project initiators under the programs.

In the reviewed period in Bulgaria have been organized many national and international forums supported by international institutions: national discussion on the Report of the International Committee of UNESCO "Education – the Hidden Treasure" to get acquainted with the main concepts of the report (December 1997 in Sofia, organizers – Ministry of Education and Science, National Institute for Education, National Committee for UNESCO, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski); National Seminar "Educational Requirements to the Educative Material" (April 1998, organizer - National Institute for Education, sponsor – the Council of Europe); Jubilee Conference "Education for Human Rights" for the 50th anniversary of the World Declaration on Human Rights (October 1998, the town of Bankya, organizers: International Federation of United Schools, National Institute for Education, Organization of United Schools in Bulgaria; sponsor - International Federation of United Schools).

The above examples, although few, prove the active national standpoint, the expressed and practically realized readiness for international support to the fundamental reforms in Bulgarian education in the period of transition.

10. OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF PROGRESS

The World Declaration on Education for All, adopted in 1990 in Jomtien, outlined an objective desirable for humanity and deemed practically attainable. On the eve of the new century, it can be clearly claimed that the satisfaction of basic educational needs, the right of children, adolescents and adults to obtain high-quality education, is a vital necessity with regard to the tendencies of stable development and the new nature of information society. We consider the efforts in the reviewed period to have positive results. The Republic of Bulgaria has undergone profound political, economic and social changes in the 90’s. The transition towards market economy has put the country in a difficult economic situation, and education for all requires special care and funds. Despite economic difficulties, the state provides minimum funds, the necessary organizational structures and school documentation. Leaning on traditions, it endeavours to reach the European dimensions. If we base our overall assessment on the main accents of the World Declaration on Education for All, we could point out the following:

Education for all is considered a significant social objective

The educational policy of the Republic of Bulgaria is characterized by active development of new legislation (Public Education Act (1991), Higher Education Act (1995) and their amendments, Professional Education Act (1999), Level of Education, General Education Minimum and Curriculum Act (1999), etc.). The laws guarantee the right of all children, adolescents and adults to obtain education intended to satisfy their basic needs. There is an institutional and social understanding of the importance of education for all with regard to lifelong education, development of cultural and moral values and enhancement of the nation’s spiritual heritage. However, the fulfillment of the specified objectives is threatened by the growing social stratification, degradation of universal human values and the education itself as a value, by nihilism and lowered social activity.

Extended approach towards education for all in the new conditions

The need of lifelong education has been acknowledged. The stress is put on the child, the pupil, man. Efforts are made to gradually conform education to the stable development strategy. A positive step in the last years is the orientation towards priority objectives: high quality of education, civil education, foreign language education, information and communication technologies.

As a result of the direct work to improve the efficiency of the education system, in the difficult socioeconomic situation the number of pupils, who have completed their elementary, primary or secondary education successfully, has preserved its level and in some cases has increased. Real pedagogical efforts have been made to attract and retain children in schools and to ensure their successful education.

No age, gender, ethnic, religious or other privileges in education are tolerable. Measures are taken to ensure the education of the poor and homeless, handicapped and children who need special care.

Special concern for the quality of education

Education quality improvement depends mainly on updating the educative material, establishment of state educational requirements and a system for assessing pupils’ achievements. Special efforts are made, with regard to the education for all, for the introduction of information and communication technologies in schools, remote education and other modern techniques for training and qualification in school and after its graduation. The expansion of educational options as a result of the diversification of secondary school types can be considered an achievement. The number of schools with early foreign language education from the first grade, of schools enrolling pupils after completion of seventh grade, and after primary education, has increased following the demands. Private schools have been established. The number of specialized and non-specialized general education and professional schools, as well as of professional secondary education schools, is growing. The ratified Level of Education, General Education Minimum and Curriculum Act provides more opportunities to satisfy pupils’ interests and to mould the particular image of each school in accordance with the region and the local conditions.

Improved quality of the teaching staff in schools

A normative base, adequate to the changes in the national education system, is gradually being established. The optimum use of national resources in the system of education is managed and coordinated despite all difficulties. Financial sponsors are drawn to aid the implementation of the changes. The insufficiency of funds, allocated for education in the national budget, is a negative factor. In distributing the funds, priority is given to teachers’ salaries, heat, light and textbooks, and school and equipment repairs are financed only in extreme situations. The conditions for bringing up of children have worsened: refectory nutrition, school healthcare, summer and winter holidays, extracurricular activities. Some social benefits as free textbooks, appliances, etc. are gradually dropping off.

Consolidation of partnership

Non-governmental organizations, established in the last years, perform diverse and increasingly efficient activities for the benefit of education. They develop projects and programs related to the priority educational areas.

Co-operation, dialogue and interaction of schools with the social environment are in progress. The participation and responsibility of intellectual elite and the entire society for the results of education are growing.

International support

International support in the form of joint projects (with UNESCO, the World Bank, EU, PHARE, "Open Society", "Socrates", etc.) has a positive impact on education for all. These projects are focused on the following issues: education and qualification of adolescents and adults; exchange of experience; training and qualification of school and university teachers, and researchers. Various international forums help to sustain governmental and non-governmental contacts with a view to establish an efficient policy and educational programs. The intense activity in this regard during the last years has led to the understanding that the experience of other countries in the education for all should be applied with responsibility by skillfully selecting the appropriate and purposeful elements consistent with the national interests, historical traditions and nature of the Bulgarian conditions and education.

The multilateral scientific and technical progress and the global problems of mankind determine the necessity of social responsibility to education, of development, democratization and profound transformation of the education system and its management in the spirit of freedom, justice and progress.