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P a r t   t h r e e: Prospects

PROSPECTS TO EDUCATION FOR ALL

The first two parts hereof have proved that to conduct an efficient strategy and policy for education for all in a situation of social transition, crisis and lack of resources is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, there are certain achievements in the work on education for all. New legislation is being developed, priorities have been outlined, the necessary organizational mechanism for institutional partnership has been established, strategies, plans and programs have been developed, the implementation of which is expected to result in increasingly thorough satisfaction of the basic educational needs of all.

The elapsed difficult and long course of development is a sound basis for further priority development of education for all.

The national strategy, which has been and remains leading for the future, is the following:

Education for all children, based on Bulgarian traditions, which becomes consistent with international and European requirements.

Greater advance in satisfying the basic educational needs of all.

The policy of enrollment and provision of full-scale education to pupils of up to 16 years of age remains the basic and priority task of school, local, regional and central educational authorities. In order to progress, our society should supply schools with the necessary conditions to give each child access to knowledge and education adequate to its capacity, to guarantee the personal and professional development of young people and their successful integration in the new conditions. The well-considered overall school policy for efficient and effective work should focus on the following directions:

School educational objectives should be highly consistent with the interests, needs and capacities of the separate pupil groups;

Planning of the educational process with the purpose of covering the required educational minimum of knowledge, skills and competence by techniques and means adequate to the specific problems of the separate pupil groups;

Encouragement of pupils towards educational achievements and development in areas, in which they are talented;

Monitoring of educational achievements. Regular review of efforts for the accomplishment of educational objectives, for personal and social development of children, and preparation of corrective mechanisms;

Creation and maintenance of a system for assistance to pupils with serious educational and personal problems;

Ensuring a high level of participation of pupils, parents, school administration and teachers in planning and performing of the school work;

Intense efforts for increasing the social financial support to schools;

Development of specialized systems for attracting drop-outs back to schools, as well as for children with specific educational needs;

Participation in regional, national and international projects and programs for exchange of experience and ideas among teachers and school administrators concerning the work on pedagogical and social issues.

Expansion of foreign language education with the purpose of satisfying the needs of all age groups in accordance with European tendencies.

Early foreign language education is organized in accordance with European tendencies of formal study and mastering of at least two foreign languages in school age. The necessary measures for achieving better results in this area already in elementary school are the following:

- As is now, each school – elementary (1-4 grade), primary (1-8 grade) and secondary general education school (1-12 grade) – should be authorized to provide early foreign language education in conformity with the respective terms and conditions.

- Sufficient staff for foreign language education should be secured, which will increase schools’ capacity and will ensure that the choice of foreign language depends mostly on pupils’ wishes. Beside English, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian and French, pupils will have the opportunity to study other foreign languages as well in freely optional classes.

Establishment of civic education in Bulgarian schools

The establishment of modern civic education in Bulgarian schools is inseparably connected with our native classical heritage and semi-centennial traditions in the study of the subject "Civics", and with the critical analysis of the distorted pedagogical heritage from the last fifty years, as well as with its up-to-date European dimensions.

National strategy on information and communication technologies

In connection with the changes determining the development of information society, in 1998 the Ministry of Education and Science ratified a National Strategy on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for secondary schools with the respective program for realization. One of the main principles of the above strategy is "Modern Training in ICTs – Opportunity for All". The program implementation is currently in its initial stage.

The main objectives of the education in ICTs and their application in other school subjects are defined in three directions: personal-social, professional, and pedagogical. The personal-social context implies that all pupils should obtain general knowledge and good mastery of computer appliances and systems, including the Internet, as a basis for their full-scale development as individuals living in a dynamic social environment with a large flow of information resources. This objective includes forming of skills for lifelong education through ICTs. The professional context implies that all pupils from professional schools need to be prepared to use ICTs in their future jobs. The pedagogical context is connected with the application of ICTs in the process of education with the purpose of improving the organization of education, introducing new more efficient techniques and means of teaching, studying, control and assessment, creating willingness to use ICTs as a means for solving different educational problems.

The planned funds for the realization of the National Educational Strategy on ICTs by 2006 amount to 65.24 million EURO. 59.93 million of them are allocated from the state budget, and 5.91 million – from local budgets. The envisaged funding is designated for the supply of schools with equipment and software, access to the Internet in all schools, development of a national school network, training of teachers. Other funds for the program realization are expected from projects connected with participation in international programs – the Fifth Framework Program, the Socrates Program, PHARE, etc.

The implementation of the National Educational Strategy on ICTs is expected to have the following results:

Up-to-date educative material and organization of education, based on the integration and application of ICTs (State Educational Requirements, educational programs and appliances, products for remote education, new forms, techniques and means of education, updated legislation).

Acquisition by Bulgarian pupils of up-to-date computer literacy and skills to work with ICTs.

Supply of modern ICT facilities in Bulgarian schools.

Up-to-date and flexible training on ICTs of pedagogical personnel and provision of opportunities for perpetual improvement of qualification. Mastering of active and interactive training techniques on the part of teachers.

Interaction among educational and business structures at solving educational issues.

Integration of the work with information and communication technologies in the process of education in different school subjects throughout the country.

Reaching of equal level of ICT application in Bulgarian school education compared to leading modern education countries.

Improvement of the level of elaboration of school literature and educational software (mainly multimedia) by translation of models in modern school literature and adaptation of educational software from all over the world.

Priorities for future development in pursuance of the Vocational Education and Training Act and adult education

- Establishment of a National Agency on Vocational Education and Training at the Council of Ministers for accreditation and licensing of activities in the national system of professional education and training, as well as for coordination of institutions related to education.

- Updating of the list of professions for vocational education and training.

- Introduction of national programs for qualification in professions differentiated according to age and demand for vocational education and training.

- Further development of State Educational Requirements for qualification in professions from the updated list.

- Gradual introduction of the system for assessment of the professional competence of graduates from vocational schools on a national level.

- Transformation of the existing Pedagogical Consulting Bureaus at the Ministry of Education and Science and Professional Information centers at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy into Centers for Information and Professional Orientation of Pupils, Unemployed and Others.

- Development of a strategy for implementation of the program Education for All.

- Broader attraction and engagement of social partners and non-governmental organizations in the process of education and qualification of adults and people with unequal social status.

- Development of forms for specialized training of instructors in the system of adult education, consultants, organizers of educational courses, specialists in professional orientation and career planning, agents of educational services, etc.

- Determining of funding mechanisms in compliance with the clauses of the Public Education Act, the Protection of Unemployed and Promotion of Employment Act and the Professional Education and Training Act.

The expected results of the above changes are:

- on one hand, introduction of unified requirements, and on the other, achievement of a differentiated approach depending on the age of people who need professional orientation, training and education;

- improvement of personnel training – basic education, qualification and re-qualification of working, unemployed and threatened with unemployment people in compliance with the economic and labour market changes.

Directions for the improvement of education funding

In order to provide optimum conditions for the progress of education, it is necessary to develop and adopt a thorough economic program, whereby:

- to conform the volume of necessary resources to the real demand for education development;

- to refine the technologies for funding of educational activities;

- to ensure priority funding of education, that is, on a national level, to increase the proportion of funds from GDP, and on a micro level, funds for education to be a major expenditure item in the budget of municipalities;

- to guarantee stable conditions for education funding;

- to increase the degree of economic independence and self-government of schools;

- to establish an efficient system of accounting in schools;

- to further expand the application of the authorized budgets system;

- to increase the remuneration of teachers significantly.

The execution of the above and of other activities will secure conditions for the mobilization of existing and new financial resources (public, private and voluntary). The whole society can contribute to the development of education for all by acknowledging it as the biggest investment in people and the country’s future.

* * *

The general process of democratization of society since November 1989, the orientation towards market economy, the efforts of our country to conform to European and world standards, the establishment of national and universal values, all these processes have an increasing impact on education. Its democratic foundations develop. Decentralization becomes more definitely expressed and creates new opportunities and priorities in regional and local government.

Favourable conditions arise for the development of civic society, as well as for the promotion of individual participation in administration through various forms and units of different character and on different levels of hierarchy.

There is considerable advance in the co-operation, dialogue and interaction of schools with the social environment, as well as in the participation and responsibility of the intellectual elite and the whole society for the outcome of education and the autonomy of educational institutions.

The analysis of the results from the development of Education for All in the last ten years reveals the multilateral activity of the Ministry of Education and Science, National Institute for Education, municipalities, schools, teachers, pupils, parents and the whole society aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of the education system, ensuring a higher rate of enrollment and accessibility of the education for all, and raising the educational level of all Bulgarians.

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