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Bulgaria - Secondary Education

schools vocational school comprehensive

Secondary education normally covers grades 8 through 12 and is regarded as a preparation for higher education. There exist several types of schools, usually called gymnaziya (high school). Most common is the secondary comprehensive school, which is the third and completing level of general comprehensive school, following the elementary and presecondary levels. In 1999-2000 there were 398 secondary schools. Socially more prestigious and widely preferred are the profile-oriented secondary schools, of which there are two kinds. The first one comprises secondary schools with intensive instruction in a foreign language (most often English, but also French, German, Spanish, and Italian). A peculiarity of this foreign-language gymnaziya is that admission takes place after the completion of seventh grade and is based on competitive entrance examination in mathematics and the Bulgarian language. The first year of instruction, called preparatory class, is dedicated to an in-depth study of a respective foreign language. This is followed by grades 8 through 12, which complete the general curriculum. The second kind of profile-oriented secondary schools, with entrance after eighth grade and competitive admission, are those specializing in math and science, the humanities, sports, and the arts. In 1999-2000, there were 69 foreign language, 14 sports, 15 humanities, and 34 math and science profile-oriented secondary schools.

The course of study ends with a compulsory matriculation examination, which comprises three exams: Bulgarian language and literature, social sciences and civics, and a subject corresponding to the profile of the school. Those who complete a secondary comprehensive school successfully are awarded a diploma, which qualifies them to apply to institutions of higher learning. In 1999-2000, there were 177,000 students enrolled in all secondary comprehensive schools.

Traditions in the secondary education field go more than 120 years back in history. In the 1990s, vocational education was given special attention resulting in the Vocational Education and Training Act of 1999. Secondary vocational education combines the goals of providing professional qualification with broadening the general comprehensive education of the students. There are several types of schools: tehnikum (technical school) with admission after completed eighth grade and a four-year course of instruction; technical schools with admission after completed seventh grade with intensive foreign language studies and a five-year course of instruction; secondary vocational-technical schools with admission after eighth grade and a three-year course of instruction; vocational schools with admission after sixth, seventh, and eighth grade; and vocational classes within the framework of the secondary comprehensive school. This is practiced in small settlements lacking a developed network of vocational schools. The fields and degrees of qualification are in accordance with standards established by the International Labor Organization.

Forms of instruction include daytime, evening, extramural, correspondence, individual, and self-instruction. This flexibility allows for the inclusion of adults in vocational education. Studies are completed after matriculation exams and result in a diploma, which entitles graduates to continue their education on a higher level or to enter the workforce. Statistics showed a trend towards increase in the percentage of students who pursue higher or semi-higher education after graduating from secondary vocational schools. In 1999-2000, there were 189,000 students enrolled in secondary vocational schools, six percent more than the students in secondary comprehensive schools.

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