Education in Bulgaria

Education in Bulgaria

Education in Bulgaria is the responsiblity of Ministry of Education and Science.

The first schools in Bulgaria began opening in the early nineteenth century and provided only basic education, such as reading, writing, and basic mathematics. After Bulgaria gained its independence in 1878, the educational system remained the same until the fall of communism in 1989. The communist regime brought a new form of education. Liberal arts were replaced by technical training in the schools’ curriculum and Russian language study was required for all, beginning at the kindergartner’s level. The Soviet Union had a great impact on Bulgarian educational system. In 1979 Zhivkov created the Unified Secondary Polytechnical School, which was a twelve-grade program that focused mainly on technical subjects. During the communism everyone received the same general education. However, after the end of the Zhivkov Era, the Bulgarian educational system was completely reconstructed. It consisted of three grade levels: primary – first to fourth grade, basic – fifth to seventh grade, and secondary – eighth to twelfth grade. Children were enrolled for first grade at the age of six or seven. Admittance at secondary schools was and is today by an examination. English became the prominent language studied at schools.

After an experts evaluation in 1991 of the country’s university system it was concluded that it was weak and the number of students continuing their education after secondary school was low. After the end of the Zhivkov Era, France and Germany helped Bulgaria reform its educational system.

Today the structure of the educational system of Bulgaria prior to higher education has two main levels – basic and secondary. The basic level is subdivided into two categories: elementary (grades first to fourth) and presecondary (fifth to eighth). The secondary level begins at eighth grade, however depending on the type of school it can start at grade seventh. There are two main types of secondary schools – secondary comprehensive (high school) and secondary vocational (technical school). The curriculum of Bulgarian Educational system focuses on eight main subjects: Bulgarian language and Literature, foreign languages, mathematics, information technologies, social sciences and civics, natural sciences and ecology, music and art, physical education and sports. Classes meet five days a week and usually take two shifts (morning and afternoon). The school year is divided into two terms with Christmas, Easter and Summer Break. The grading system is based on numerals, where 6 is the highest and 2 is the lowest grade a student can obtain. The types of higher education institutions are Universities, Colleges and Specialized Higher Schools. Universities, as in most countries worldwide, have three stages: Bachelor, Master and Doctor’s degrees. The Bachelor stage lasts for at least four years, the Master stage lasts for five years after completion of secondary education or one year after obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree. The third stage of higher education results in obtaining a Doctors’ Degree.

In 2003 Bulgaria’s literacy rate was estimated at 98.6 percent, with approximately the same rate for both sexes. Bulgaria traditionally has had high educational standards. In the post-communist era, low funding and low teacher morale have damaged the system somewhat, particularly in vocational training. Adherence to classical teaching methods has handicapped development in some technical fields. The current system of primary and secondary education, introduced in 1998, has 12 grades, in which attendance is compulsory from age seven through age 16. In 1998 enrollment in the primary grades was 93 percent of eligible students, and enrollment in the secondary grades was 81 percent of eligible students. The ratio of females to males in primary schools was 0.97, and the ratio in secondary schools was 0.98. Because of Bulgaria’s low birthrate, total primary- and secondary-school enrollment has decreased in the post-communist era, causing reductions in teaching staff and facilities. At the same time, the number of private schools increased by 10 times during the 1990s. Bulgaria’s higher education system was fully reorganized in the mid-1990s. Between 1995 and 2002, the number of university graduates increased from 33,000 to 50,000. In 2002 some 42 institutions of higher learning were in operation, and 215,700 students were enrolled. In 2003 some 4.9 percent of Bulgaria’s national budget was devoted to education.


* [ Structure of Education System in Bulgaria,]
* [ Bulgarian Education]
* [ The Edcuation in Bulgaria, Eurybase]

External links

* [ Organization Chart]
* [ Eurydice Summary Factsheet on Education Systems in Europe on Bulgaria]
* [ Upper secondary education background in Bulgaria]

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