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Bulgarian Education System



Structure

Education in Bulgaria is compulsory until the age of 16. The school year consists of two terms, starts on September 15th and ends in May or June. The education system consists of the following levels: pre-primary education, primary education, secondary education and higher education. Pre-primary education (ISCED’97, Level 0) embraces the children between 3 to 6/7 years old. The attendance of kindergarten is optional. Elementary education (grades 1 to 8 ISCED’97 Level 1, 2 and 2А) comprises primary school (grades 1 through 4) and lower secondary school/second step of basic school (grades 5 - 8). Elementary education can be obtained at state schools, municipality schools or private schools. In addition, at the same education level, vocational training is available in accordance with professional-technical curricula upon completion of grades 6, 7 or 8. School children who have successfully completed grade 4 obtain the Certificate for Primary Education. The Certificate for Elementary Education is issued for the successful completion of grade 8.

Pre-school education

Pre-school education (ISCED’97, Level 0) embraces the children between 3 to 6/7 years. The attendance of kindergarten is optional. Next to the state-run kindergartens, which prevail (over 95 %), there are also private ones and their number is growing.

Elementary and secondary education

Elementary education (grades 1 through 8) comprises primary school (grades 1 through 4 ISCED’97 Level 1) and junior high school (grades 5 – 8, ISCED’97 Level 2A). Elementary education can be obtained at state, municipality or private schools. In addition, at the same education level, vocational training is available in accordance with professional-technical curricula upon completion of grades 6, 7 or 8. The Certificate for Primary Education is issued upon successful completion of grade 4 and the Certificate for Elementary Education is obtained for successful completion of grade 8.

Secondary education (ISCED’97 Level 3А) can be divided into comprehensive education (comprehensive and specialized schools) and vocational training. General secondary education can be obtained at comprehensive schools (course duration 3-4 years) and at specialized schools (course duration 4-5 years). The admission in the specialized schools is upon completion of grades 7 or 8 and after exams depending on the profile of the school. (in Bulgarian language and literature, mathematics, humanities etc.)

Secondary education can be obtained also at technical schools after completion of grade 8 and 4 years of training or after completion of grade 7 and 5 years of training. Vocational schools with a three-year curriculum also provide secondary education.

Educational curricula for technical vocational schools (ISCED’ 97 Level 3С) are offered after completion of elementary education, the course duration is 2 years. The acquired vocational qualification enables the access to the labor market.

General secondary (comprehensive) education

The general secondary education (upper level) can be divided into secondary comprehensive and secondary specialized education. Secondary comprehensive education can be obtained at secondary comprehensive schools (for 3-4 years), and the secondary specialized education – at specialized secondary schools (for 4-5 years). The admission to the specialized schools is upon completion of grade 7 or grade 8 and successful passage of the entry exams, corresponding to the school profile (in Bulgarian language and literature, mathematics, humanities etc.)

General secondary education (upper level) is offered by:

  • Secondary comprehensive schools, they cover: primary school level – grades 1 through 4; junior high school – grades 5 through 8 and secondary school level – grades 9 through 11.


  • Specialized schools with emphasis on foreign languages (language schools) – admission after grade 7 and upon entry exams. They cover grades 8 through 12/13.


  • Specialized secondary schools – admission upon completion of grade 8 (theses are schools with emphasis either on science and/or mathematics, or on humanities, or sports, or arts etc.) They cover grades 9 through 12/13.

Special needs education

There is a network of state-run boarding schools to support and educate physically or mentally disadvantaged children. The priorities in this area like legal frame for the funding, development of alternative forms of education, system of school preparation for the integration and socialization of the children with special needs, programs for integrated educational forms, individual training etc. are still pending.

School-leaving examinations

The students in the secondary comprehensive schools go in for school-leaving exams in the following subjects:

  • Bulgarian language and Literature


  • A general subject of their own choice (excluding Bulgarian language and Literature); the subject has to be included in the compulsory curriculum for the last schooling year.


  • The students in the specialized/specialized secondary schools sit for school-leaving exams in the following subjects:


  • Bulgarian language and Literature:


  • The main subject of the specialized school; if it is Bulgarian language and Literature, the examination is in the second important subject of the school.

Exempt from school-leaving exams are all the students, whose average mark is at least "Very good" (5) on a certain subject from the curriculum for this level and whose annual mark for the last school year on the same (obligatory or optional) subject is at least "Very good" (5) too.

Schools in the system of secondary education in Bulgaria

Secondary education in Bulgaria (upper level) can be divided in general education and vocational training. The general secondary education on its part divides in comprehensive one and specialized one. There are comprehensive schools of general education (3-4 years of attendance) and specialized secondary schools (4-5 years of attendance). The admission to the specialized schools is upon completion of grade 7 or grade 8 and successful passage of the entry exams, corresponding to the school profile (in Bulgarian language and literature, mathematics, humanities etc.)

General secondary education (upper level) is offered by:

Secondary comprehensive schools, they cover: primary school level – grades 1 through 4; junior high school – grades 5 through 8 and secondary school level – grades 9 through 11.

Specialized schools with emphasis on foreign languages (language schools) – admission after grade 7 and upon entry exams. They cover grades 8 through 12/13.

Specialized secondary schools – admission upon completion of grade 8 (theses are schools with emphasis either on science and/or mathematics, or on humanities, or sports, or arts etc.) They cover grades 9 through 12/13.

Vocational secondary education is available at the vocational-technical and in the technical schools. The vocational-technical schools offer three years of training upon completion of grade 8 and 5 years of training upon completion of grade 7. Both result in specialized secondary education.

These schools offer also other forms of training, such as evening courses, external or on-site training, in order to enable students at the age of 16 and above to acquire qualification. Presence at the evening courses is obligatory, while the organization of the other forms of training is student’s responsibility.

HIGHER EDUCATION FACILITIES IN BULGARIA:

The higher education system in Bulgaria comprises various forms of programs and curricula upon the completion of the secondary level. The legal frame for founding of higher education institutions is set by the Law of Higher Education. According to Article 9 of this Law, the Parliament (Narodno sabranie) plays the key role in decision making about matters, concerning the network of higher education institutions in the country. The Parliament (Narodno sabranie) is entitled to establish, transform and close the educational organizations on the grounds of a proposal by the Ministry council. In the recent 4 years the higher education network was object of important changes and transformations.

At present the higher education system unites universities, specialized institutions of higher education (academia, institutes) and colleges.

The universities are those educational institutions for higher learning, which ensure education in a wide spectrum of specialties, at least in three of the four main scientific areas (humanities, science, social and technological studies). The universities have enough own research capacity and equipment to contribute to the progress in the main areas of science and culture. These institution for higher learning are entitled to teach students to all degrees ( ISCED’97 Levels 5А, 6).

 The specialized institutions of higher education are engaged in teaching and research in one or more main areas of science, art, sports and defense. The name of the specialized higher school indicates the main specialties of its curriculum. This type of educational institutions for higher learning are also entitled to teach students to all degrees ( ISCED’97 Levels 5А, 6).

The colleges offer a relatively shorter and vocation-oriented training (ISCED’97 Level 5В). These are the former semi-higher institutes, which have undergone different transformation. Actually most of them are part of the universities and use their equipment. There are also some independent colleges, which can meet the necessary academic and material conditions on their own.

The qualifications, acquired at the higher military schools, meet all the requirements of the education at civil institutions for higher education. So beside the title of the military specialty, the qualification encloses also a title, corresponding to the civil specialty.
 
 
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