Gerogi Bogdanov, executive director, and Danny Koleva, program director at the National Network for Children, met with the Minister of Education and Science Rumyana Kolarova and Deputy Minister Vanya Kastreva on the 9th October 2014. A focus in the discussion was the preparation of a special mechanism for the prevention of maltreatment, violence and abuse of children in kindergartens and schools.
We have argued for the adoption of the ordinance, including the three main pillars:
- In the selection of staff, to carry out a police check of each employee in a school relating to their criminal record and their possession of a Certificate of No Legal Proceedings involving children [translator’s note; this is equivalent to a CRB/DBS check in the UK]. In addition, conducting induction training for everyone working in the education system.
- The introduction of an internal referral system in cases of violence against a child by an adult. This system must be effective and active from the moment a referral is made, which may come from the child, parent or another adult, to achieve effective protection of the child and the temporary suspension of the suspect until the conclusion of the investigation. This referral system must be very clear and have clear time limits and steps.
- The introduction of periodic training for and assessment of those working with children, to sustain workers’ attention in relation to non-violence with children.
It was agreed to begin work immediately on the development of a mechanism to prevent violence against children, to be introduced throughout the education system.
We also demand a handbook be made to guide the implementation of this mechanism so that the system is especially well grounded in the application of rules, measures and approaches of action in each and every school.
Participants also discussed the problem of refugee children who continue to be excluded from the education system. There are still 400 children in refugee camps and only 40 children attend school. In this regard, Minister Kolarova insisted on holding an emergency meeting at the end of next week, together with the State Agency for Refugees. The meeting will discuss how, in the next calendar year, to provide education to all refugee children.
Translator: Morgan James, volunteer