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Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary and primary education in Bulgaria consists of two levels—detski yasli (nurseries) for children through the age of three and detski gradini (kindergartens) for children ages three to seven. These age limits are not absolute, since kindergartens often accept children who are two and a half years old, and elementary schools enroll six-year-olds. Attendance in both cases is voluntary and fees are charged. The nurseries are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health and are not considered part of the education system.

Bulgaria's traditions in preprimary education go back 120 years. An education act in 1891 introduced compulsory kindergarten attendance in the cities. While preschool education is not a requirement, there exist impressive facilities, sufficient to enroll the entire children population in all-day kindergartens. However, attendance is on the decline. The major reason for that are the high unemployment rates and the economic difficulties encountered by many families. In 1990-1991, about 312,000 of 595,448 children ages two through seven attended kindergartens (52.4 percent). The percentages slightly differ between cities (53.13 percent), and villages (50.78 percent), and are lowest in Sofia (49.78 percent). The number of children in this age rapidly decreases as well, due to falling birth rates. This explains why relative numbers increased, and absolute enrollment in kindergartens fell. For instance, in 1998-1999 nearly 230,330, or 58 percent, of the children in this age group, attended kindergarten. In consequence to declining enrollment, preprimary education enhances the intellectual and social development of youngsters and prepares them for a smooth transition to grade school. Kindergarten attendance is socially desirable; most of the children who are not enrolled in preprimary education come from low-income families where one or both parents are unemployed.

Grades 1 through 4 comprise the first sub-level of basic education or nachalno uchilishte (elementary school). According to a 1998 amendment of the Public Education Act, children start school at the age of seven; they are supposed to have turned or are going to turn seven in the year they join first grade. Six-year-olds may be enrolled in case their physical and mental development allows for such a step, a decision left to the discretion of their parents or guardians. The curriculum for grades 1 through 4 includes eight compulsory subjects: Bulgarian language, mathematics, introductory Bulgarian history and geography, natural science, fine art, music, and physical education. Minimum comprehensive instruction includes 22-25 hours per week. The curriculum also provides for three to four hours of optional subjects per week. Primary education is completed without exam. Svidetelstvo (certificate) of primary education is issued on the basis of the grades earned in fourth grade. In 1999-2000, there were 385,000 students enrolled in elementary education.

The second sub-level of the basic school, called progimnaziya (pre-high school) covers grades 5 through 8. The curriculum at this level includes 12 compulsory subjects: Bulgarian language and literature, mathematics, history, geography, physics, chemistry, biology, fine arts, music, technical education, physical education, and one foreign language. A second foreign language may be included in the seventh grade. The minimum instruction time includes 27-30 hours per week; another four hours per week are allowed for optional subjects. A Svidetelstvo (certificate) for completed basic education is issued on the basis of the grades earned in eighth grade without a final exam. In 1999-2000, there were 357,000 students enrolled at this school level.

Additional topics

Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceBulgaria - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education