Early childhood care and education, which is are extremely important elements of early childhood development, are among the key challenges that Bulgaria is facing, according to European Commission’s “Education and Training Monitor 2017” Periodic Report. The document outlining the main achievements and challenges in Bulgaria’s education system was presented today at the European Commission’s Representation in Bulgaria by Stefan Hermais, Policy Strategy and Policy Director, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sports and Culture of the European Commission.
According to the report, Bulgaria is lagging behind in meeting the target set by the European Union – 95% of children between 4 years of age and compulsory school age attending forms of pre-school education. While the target for the EU as a whole is almost fully achieved (94.8%), this percentage for the year 2015 is 89.2%, with a range that is not rising compared to the previous year. The participation of Roma children in forms of pre-school education is particularly worrying – 66% in 2016, and although it has risen in recent years, it remains low. The introduction of compulsory two-year pre-school education is an important step in ensuring an equal start for disadvantaged pupils. Recent plans have been announced to further extend compulsory pre-school education by including the age group for 4-year-olds. The quality of education continues to be a major challenge, as demonstrated by students’ poor achievements in international success studies.
Children aged between 0 and 3 years are not included in this report, as they are not covered by the education system. However, their age group is commented on in the final part of the pan-European report outlining the EU’s vision for progress towards the 2020 targets: “The logical next step would be to provide high quality and accessibility to childcare facilities as well as to extend the participation of children under the age of 3 to meet the 33% target.” In Bulgaria, this indicator is much lower and the next step would be to ensure a high level of high quality and accessibility for nurseries and kindergartens.
For Our Children Foundation works for the improvement of policies, aimed at children at early age in the educational, health and social systems, as well as for the improvement of the practices in these sectors. The Foundation develops and provides social and integrated services that offer health, social and educational support to children and their families.