More than 30 principals of schools, providing professional education in the “Every student will be a winner” network, as well as representatives of NGOs, participated in the roundtable “Problems of professional education in multicultural environment“. In the roundtable participated the Minister of Education – Krassimir Valchev. The participants discussed and asked questions about the main challenges in engaging and successful graduation of secondary education of Roma youth, accentuating on professional education. They discussed and the questions around the “Support for success” project, the segregation in education, the reach to children in preschool education and many more. In honest and pragmatic tone Minister Valchev answered some of the questions and put it upon himself to find solutions to the other problems.
During the first part of the roundtable the principals of professional high schools, united and secondary schools with professional classes, shared their experience, achievements and problems. The situation in the different schools and regions is different, stated the participants. Angel Zhivkov, principal of Professional high school of agricultural mechanization in the town of Gotse Delchev , shared that in four years he were able to triple the number of students in the school, as he transformed the school in modern educational center, providing large spectrum of educational services – for the young people and or their parents. The percentage of Roma students in the high school is around 40 and there is no ground for secondary segregation.
In the Professional high school for chemistry and food technologies in Pazardzhik the percentage of Roma students is predominant, explained the principal Todor Dzhambov. The school puts a lot of effort for prevention of school drop out by implementing dual education and work with the student`s families. The vast majority of students travel from different places in the region, the main problem for the school is providing funding for transportation. For second year in a row the Ministry of Science and Education are funding transport cards for the students from the Municipality, but this doesn`t apply for the children from the neighboring municipalities because Article 283 from the Law for preschool and school education, changed in the end of 2017, is securing funding for the expenses to the closest professional class. This statement is in conflict with the spirit of the Law, according to which every student should be provided with the opportunity to study in chosen by them school and class, stated the principal. He suggested a change in article 283 that will provide covering the transport expenses to the closest professional class in the field, chosen by the student.
The problem with the material base and the profiled teachers in the united schools , which just now started to include professional classes, shared principals. Operational programmme “Regions in growth” prioritizes the professional high schools and have great impact in them. Unfortunately the operational programme, as well the national programs of the Ministry of Education and Science do not apply for the professional classes in the united and the secondary schools. Mechanisms in this direction must be added, as well as the transition between first to second secondary stage to be eased in the schools, providing professional education.
Many questions emerged in regard to the “Support for success” project. The principals of schools in municipalities, included in the integrated operation “Socio-economic integration” shared their disappointment of their schools being excluded from participation in “Support for success” project.
Minister Valchev listened the suggestions made and answered to most of them. He agreed on the necessity of inclusion of every school in “Support for success” and promised to cooperate for that. “It is unacceptable because of formal and unsubstantiated reasons to be excluded 61 schools, in which are studying thousands of student that need the trainings from the “Support of success” project”, stated Valchev. “There is a reason to think about change in the law that will fund the transport expenses of the students to the closest professional class in the chosen field on regional level”, said Minister Valchev. “We can`t do that on national level, because there are high schools that are unique for the whole country in some professional fields and funding this expenses will be too expensive. But on regional level this could be done.”
„The need of renovation, support for the material base and equipment in a lot of schools is undeniable”, explained the Minister. “ We can`t promise miracles in this direction, because the main expenses in the field of education will continue to be the promised salary increase. To have motivated teachers they have to be well paid and no one will argue about that. Surely we have to seek possibilities for improving the material base as we will facilitate not only the operational programme but the state budget as well”, promised Minister Valchev.
There were questions about the educational segregation too. The Minister emphasized the position of the Ministry of Education and Science that the education in ethnically mixed class rooms should be supported as the policies for desegregation should be main obligation of the municipalities. Through change in Ordinance 10 of the Ministry of Science and Education secured the possibilities of the principles to enroll up to 10% more that approved student maximum in every class if this is for the students, coming from Roma settlements. This year the Ministry started pilot national programme through which the Municipalities will be supported in the desegregation process – by covering the trarsport expenses from the Roma settlements to the unsegregated schools. Minister Valchev called for the schools and organizations to signalize if some principals are denying to enroll Roma children in their schools as well if they approve segregated classes in ethnically mixed schools. These are definitely violation of the law and I will be uncompromising to such principals, promised the Minister of Education
Questions about the removal of kindergarten taxes were raised as one of the successful measures for increasing the reach of the preschool education. “The Bulgarian government is seeking a way to provide free food in the kindergarten” explained Minister Valchev. “ That will mean basically free preschool education in the mandatory 5 and 6 year group. The decision is still not made but possibilities in this direction are looked for.”
After the roundtable the participants greeted the students from the procession of the schools from the Roma children`s festival “Open heart”. It was held under the motto “ To transform the hate speech into tolerance speech”.
The round table was organized within RARE project
You can find more information about RARE project at:
The sixteenth edition of the Roma children`s festival “Open heart” gathered more than 1600 children, teachers and parents from 100 schools, culture centers and united child complexes in the country, as well as young people and volunteers from the Community development centers, created by Center “Amalipe”. If I say that this festival was the most colourful and filled with emotions and supporting events, I wouldn`t be exaggerating. It`s not a coincidence that we titled it also Escape festival – together, organizers, participants and guests escaped the everyday life, escaped the negativity and just got fun together. Together - children and youth from the whole country; Roma, Bulgarian and Turkish ethnicity, proved for another year that we are more similar than different. They proved that in their colourful world of art and smiles, there is no place for prejudice and hate.
That was the reason why the motto of the festival this year was “From hate speech to tolerant speech”. This was the title of the exhibition we placed on the main street of Veliko Tarnovo days before the official opening of the festival. The photographers that took part in it were Radostina Petkova and Raycho Chaprazov. Their photos showed the purity of the children`s emotions and the stories of successful Roma – teachers, doctors, laboratory technicians, directors and others.
For the first time we had the honor a host to the festival to be Petya Rusinova – principal of United School “N.Y. Vapsarov”, village of Selanovtsi, and in the first day her co-host was Ivan Todorov and in the second – the Roma journalist and director Valeri Lekov.
The official opening of the festival “Open heart” 2019 was in Marno pole park on 7th of June, where the participants were greeted personally by Gancho Karabadzhakov – deputy mayor of Veliko Tarnovo Municipality, Madushubele Mamabolo – Counsellor Political Affairs to the Embassy of Republic of South Africa, Dora Makarieva – Counsellor Political Affairs to the Embassy of Federal Republic of Germany, Kristina Boeva - Trust for social achievement, Manuela Radeva and Lalo Kamenov – CEICSEM, Boni Bonev – chair of Bulgarian-swiss chamber of commerce, Denitsa Todorova from “Teach for all” foundation, Mariyka Aleksandrova – senior expert “Organization of education”, Regional educational inspectorate – Varna, Krassimira Kotseva – president of Zonta club, Veliko Tarnovo, Irena Vodova – expert in Regional educational inspectorate, Vidin, representatives of local institutions and NGOs. Later that day the Minister of Education Krassimir Valchev got the chance to experience the magic of the festival.
Greetings were submitted by Yanka Takeva, Head of the Union of Bulgarian Teachers, Krassimir Velchev – Head of the Commission for religion and human rights in the National Assembly; D-r Ana Dzhumalieva – Head of the Commission against discrimination; Donka Petkova , Director of Zonta International clubs in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania; Rumyana Petkova, Executive director of Agency for social support; Plamena Nedelcheva, Director of United kindergarten, town of Novi Pazar; Manuela Radeva, Director of CEICSEM.
After the greeting it was time for the performances – that moment the children were preparing for the whole year. Every group was different, colourful and beautiful. Every participant added to the unforgettable emotion, which will be remembered by the audience for long time. And when some danced, sang and recreated traditions, others showed how talented they are by presenting different art and crafts ateliers.
After the festival performances in the first day, the participants marched through Vasil Levski Street in the traditional procession that ended with long horo in front of the building of Veliko Tarnovo Municipality. As ending to this colourful day we enjoyed the wonderful performance “Untold story” , presented by the students from Vocational school for chemistry and food technologies, town of Pazardzhik. The young people impressed the audience with their talent and professionalism. The aim of the play was to present the problems the young Roma girls are facing when forced to enter “early marriage”. It presented the different stand points of the students, when in school appears a child in risk – from the will to help and protect the victims of violence, to help to be included to purely teenage jealousy for the ones, receiving care, even if they need it. The play provoked a lot of thoughts in the audience.
During the second day of the Festival the participants showed great musical, dance and artistic talents, and were joined by the Interest groups created as part of the “Together we find solution: educational integration in multicultural environment in Veliko Tarnovo Region” Project (Contract BG05M2OP001-3.002-0050-C01/05.07.2017 “Together we find solution : educational integration in multicultural environment in Veliko Tarnovo Province”, funded by the Operational programme “Science and education for smart growth”, cofounded by the European Union by the structural and investment funds)
Moreover, when I said that the program was richer than anytime, I was not joking. During the festival days the children participated in the so called “social circus”, organized by Mini Art Foundation. But the surprises for the participants didn’t end there. For the first time the colourful program of “Open heart” set the participants on the adventure Еscape Festival with the mission to neutralize a bomb. The game was in line with the festival but also with the historical and geography specifics of the old capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. This was possible with the help of Silvia Bogdanova and Georgi Kunchev – History and Geography teachers in United School “Hristo Botev” , village of Dalgo pole. The students were having fun while solving tasks, logical games, questions by using their knowledge in History, Geography, Bulgarian language and Literature, Mathematics, PE and sports. The smartphones, part of the everyday life of every young person, were helpers in photographing and recording pictures and video that they had to create as a group and to upload on the Facebook page of “Open heart” festival.
Many schools from the “Every student will be a winner” network were awarded with statuettes for excellent performance in the festival and during the school year. They are:
Every participant in the Festival and in the wonderful ateliers, that transformed “Marno pole” park into a beautiful fairytale, was awarded with certificates. Certificates received also the volunteers, without which the event wouldn`t be possible and we deeply thank them.
After voting amongst the participants, were selected the awards for the best atelier and group. They were for Secondary Scool “L. Karavelov”, town of Varna – atelier and Vocational school for textile and clothing “Dobri Zhelyazkov”, town of Sliven – for best group.
The grand prize of the mayor of Veliko Tarnovo Municipality was for United School “Hristo Botev”, village of Zelena Morava
Shared from our participants:
„Wonderful initiative for meeting of students and of teachers. Clear message for community belonging and standing for European and human values. Brightness and great mood! “
Vocational school for chemistry and food technologies, town of Pazardzhik
„Amazing emotional experience for the students. A celebration they were waiting for the whole year. A place where they feel important and where they can socialize successfully. Here they had a chance to present their natural talent and sense for art.“
Secondary School “ St. St. Cyril and Methodius”, town of Smyadovo
„An event which gives the students from the whole country a chance to present themselves, to meet children from different parts of Bulgaria, to share their traditions and thoughts. A chance to feel that they are part of one big community, to feel the warmth and togetherness of the ethnicities, despite their differences.“
United school “Hristo Botev”, village of Banitsa.
Parallel with the festival activities were held supporting events, including:
Reading of works of the Roma poet Vassil Chaprazov and a discussion about the Roma culture
Photo exhibition “The successful Roma”
They showcased the growth of the festival from celebration of the student`s creativity to days of Roma culture, friendship and tolerance.
Trust for social achievements is a nongovernmental organization, which mission is to stop the vicious cycle of poverty by encouraging possibilities which helps the vulnerable citizens of Bulgaria to achieve educational and economic success. TSA supports programmes that with their honest, potential for growth and transparency help for improving the well-being of the poorest people in Bulgaria with special focus on Roma.
The Festival has been organized with the support of the project RARE - Roma as Human Resource
You can find more information about RARE project at: