Access to pre-school education
Pre-school education is provided by kindergartens, while compulsory pre-school education is provided by kindergartens or by schools.
Minor beneficiaries of international protection are enrolled in kindergartens or schools under the terms and following the procedure for Bulgarian nationals laid down in Chapter Five, Section IV of the Pre-school and School Education Act and in Ordinance No 5 on Pre-school Education issued by the Minister of Education and Science.
Children are admitted to pre-school education round the year. The procedure for children’s enrollment in and release from municipal kindergartens, as well as their transfer to other kindergartens is laid down in an ordinance of the municipal council, and in the regulations of the schools where pre-school education is conducted. The headmasters ensure priority for the admission of children who are subject to compulsory pre-school education.
The conditions for enrollment in a kindergarten or a school are determined by the relevant municipality and are accessible on its website.
Admission to a kindergarten or a school is a process of applying and ranking for enrollment in a kindergarten. The submitted application may be based on either general or social criteria. The successful ranking entitles the child to enrollment in the relevant kindergarten or school for the purpose of which the parent/guardian/custodian presents to the headmaster the necessary documents, as required by the Ordinance of the relevant municipality.
Some municipalities have put in place electronic systems for application, enrollment and service provision at kindergartens. For example:
Sofia Municipality – Information for Service Provision at Kindergartens;
Plovdiv Municipality – System for Electronic Centralized Ranking for Enrollment of children in Municipal Nurseries and Kindergartens.
The list of kindergartens can be found in the Register of the Institutions in Pre-school and School Education.
Access to school education
In terms of inclusion in the education system of beneficiaries of international protection of school age have the same rights as Bulgarian nationals laid down in the Pre-school and School Education Act. The persons of school age are provided free education in state and municipal schools of the Republic of Bulgaria under the terms and conditions of the Bulgarian citizens.
Persons who seek or have been granted international protection and who hold a document certifying the completion of a grade, stage or degree of education are enrolled in schools in conformity with Ordinance No 11 of 01.09.2016 on the Evaluation of Schoolchildren’s learning outcomes issued by the Minister of Education and Science.
Recognition of completed education of beneficiaries of international protection shall be carried out on the basis of Art. 108 of Ordinance No. 11 of 1 September 2016 for the assessment of students’ learning outcomes.
Paragraph (1) specifies the necessary documents for the recognition of a completed level of school education and / or professional qualification based on documents issued by schools of foreign countries. According to Paragraph (5) the necessary documents must be legalized, translated and validated. The Ordinance provides for an exception for the documents of beneficiaries of refugee or humanitarian status (Paragraph 6).
Persons who seek or have been granted international protection and who do not hold a document certifying the completion of a grade, stage or degree of education are enrolled in schools in conformity with Ordinance No 3 of 06.04.2017 on the Terms and Procedure for the Enrollment and Education of Persons Who Seek or Have Been Granted International Protection issued by the Minister of Education and Science.
Enrollment to a particular grade in a state or municipal school is made after an application by a parent (the representative of the unaccompanied minor) to the head of the relevant Regional Education Administration.
Within 7 working days the latter directs the minor foreigner seeking or granted international protection to a particular school according to his place of residence and willingness of the parent/representative. The enrollment of the minor foreigner seeking or granted international protection is done throughout the school year but not later than 30 school days before the end of the second term of study.
Children up to the fourth grade are enrolled by age in the appropriate grade. A school commission determines the grade of the older ones after an interview with the child.
Schoolchildren seeking or granted international protection enrolled in state or municipal schools are provided with additional free modules in Bulgarian language.
A list of the state and municipal schools can be found in the Register of the Institutions in Pre-school and School Education.
Bulgarian language training for children and pupils for whom Bulgarian is not their mother tongue
Additional Bulgarian language training for children and pupils who seek or have been granted international protection is provided on the grounds of Chapter III of Ordinance No 6 of 11.08.2016 on Learning the Bulgarian Literary Language issued by the Minister of Education and Science.
It provides in Art.13 (1) additional training in Bulgarian as a foreign language to support the integration of children and students seeking or having received international protection. The training is carried out individually or in a group at the discretion of the headmaster of the host school or kindergarten respectively, following a decision of the coordinating team based on the state educational standard for inclusive education according to the needs of each child.
UNHCR Teachers’ Toolkit
UNHCR Teachers’ Toolkit provides free-of-charge and adaptable UNHCR teaching materials on refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness, and a section dedicated to professional development and guidance for primary and secondary school teachers on including refugee children in their classes.
Bulgarian language training for adults
Beneficiaries of international protection have access to the Program for Refugees’ Employment and Training of the Employment Agency which offers Bulgarian language training.
Free Bulgarian language courses (A1 and A2 level) are carried out throughout the year in the Integration centres of the Bulgarian Red Cross and Caritas Sofia.
Academic Bulgarian language courses
Sofia University Department for Language Learning is providing Bulgarian language courses for foreigners, including for beneficiaries of international protection.
More information: www.deo.uni-sofia.bg
Access to vocational education and training
The Vocational Education and Training Act regulates the right of access to vocational education and training and validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences (Art. 1 (1))
The Pre-school and School Education Act is applied for the school vocational education and training.
Beneficiaries of international protection have the right to continue their education at vocational secondary schools and schools which provide qualification for a given profession and completion of primary or secondary education.
Minimum Entry Educational and / or Qualification Level to Acquire the corresponding degrees of professional qualification or qualification for part of a profession are defined in Article 8 (4) of the Vocational Education and Training Act
Candidates wishing to continue their education through inclusion in vocational education and training programmes have to meet specific requirements:
- minimum age – 13 years of age for schools and 16 years of age when training takes place at another training institution;
- education level – a particular completed class of primary or secondary education or a completed level of education necessary to acquire the corresponding degree of professional qualification;
- health status – a medical certificate that there is no contraindication to acquiring the profession.
Access to the educational system of beneficiaries of international protection who have reached the age of 16
Access to the educational system of adults with international protection is free of charge. They can continue to pursue different forms of education, such as:
- evening classes (in evening schools basic or secondary education and/or vocational training is organized);
- an independent form of education (a non-formal form in which, after self-preparation, the student is examined in the subjects included in the school curriculum).
Admission to a relevant educational degree shall be based on the submission of documents for a completed educational degree or after validation of knowledge on the grounds of Art. 108 of Ordinance No. 11 of 1 September 2016 for the assessment of students’ learning outcomes.
Recognition of completed education
Recognition of completed education of beneficiaries of international protection shall be carried out on the basis of Art. 108 of Ordinance No. 11 of 1 September 2016 for the assessment of students’ learning outcomes. Paragraph (1) specifies the necessary documents for the recognition of a completed level of school education and / or professional qualification based on documents issued by schools of foreign countries. According to Paragraph (5) the necessary documents must be legalized, translated and validated. The Ordinance provides for an exception for the documents of beneficiaries of international protection (Paragraph 6).
Access to higher education
Beneficiaries of international protection have access to higher education under the terms and following the procedure for Bulgarian nationals laid down in the Higher Education Act and the Ordinance on the State Requirements for Admission of Students in Universities in the Republic of Bulgaria.
The documents required for applying for higher education must conform to the conditions laid down in the Regulation on the Legalization, Certification and Translation of Documents and Other Papers and Ordinance No 11 of 01.09.2016 on the evaluation of schoolchildren’s learning outcomes issued by the Minister of Education and Science.
The admission of the students to acquire a Bachelor’s degree is done after a secondary education, certified with a secondary education diploma and a competitive examination according to the state requirements.
The list of universities can be found in the Register of Accredited Higher Education Establishments in the Republic of Bulgaria.
Recognition of acquired higher education and completed periods of study at foreign higher education institutions
The recognition of higher education acquired abroad for beneficiaries of international protection is conducted under the terms and following the procedure for Bulgarian nationals laid down in the Ordinance on the State Requirements for the Recognition of Higher Education Acquired and of Education Periods Completed at Foreign Higher Education Establishments (Article 2. Right to Recognition of Higher Education Acquired and Completed Periods of Study at Foreign Higher Schools have Bulgarian citizens, foreigners and persons with refugee status).
Pursuant to Para.1 of the Additional Provisions to the Ordinance people who for reasons beyond their control such as natural disasters, major accidents or hostilities in the territory of the State in which they have been trained cannot submit a higher education diploma or a document certifying a completed training period may request that the facts be established by court in accordance with the Civil Procedure Code.
According to Para 2 (2) of the Ordinance, the recognition of a professional qualification for exercising a regulated profession on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria is carried out according to the procedure established by the Law on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications.
The Vocational Education and Training Act classifies professions and specialties in professional fields and by level of professional qualification (art. 8, (2)) and determines the requirements for a corresponding level of professional qualification. (Article 8 (3))
Beneficiaries of international protection have the right to acquire qualifications through continuing education after the validation of their previous qualifications under the terms and following the procedure for Bulgarian nationals at the relevant centers for continuing education. Such centers are:
Center for Continuing Education – Ruse University with the scope of activity – training and acquisition, expansion and improvement of the professional qualification of students, postgraduates, PhD students and secondary or higher education graduates in order to support the professional career and the individual development.
Center for Continuing and Vocational Education at New Bulgarian University – The center offers programs, courses, workshops, master classes, summer schools, academic lectures targeted at all ages. The training is carried out with modern interactive methods and modern technologies, consistent with the need for continuous training and qualification.