25.04.2018Roma teachers discussed the development of school education with Minister Valchev and Deputy Minister Sacheva

Minister of Education Krasimir Valchev, Deputy Minister Denitsa Sacheva, Directors of Directorates at the Ministry of Education and Science, Director of the Center for Educational Integration Manuela Radeva and experts from the Ministry of Education discussed the problems of school education with teachers of Roma origin. The meeting was organized by Amalipe Center and the Ministry of Education and Science on April 12, on the occasion of the International Roma Day, and was held at the CEICSEM building. It was moderated by Yosif Nunev.

Minister Valchev underlined the commitment of the Ministry of Education to policies for educational integration. Serious financial resources are already in place to help schools to enroll and educate children of low-educated families in the classroom, and this resource comes from the state budget. In 2018, 30 million leva will be received from schools, and the commitment will continue in the coming years. The funds will be used to pay teachers extra, as well as hiring mediators, community mediators, and so on. Minister Valchev thanked Amalipe Center for the permanent work with dozens of schools, defining the organization as the main partner of the Ministry in terms of educational integration.

Deputy Minister Sacheva added that a decree is being prepared that will make the scope teams permanent, whose main task is to coordinate the efforts of all institutions to ensure full coverage in pre-school and school education. The teams are particularly successful in places where representatives of the Roma community are engaged. 

In his speech, Amalipe Chairman Deyan Kolev stressed that Roma who are qualified teachers represent the best guarantee for the irreversibility of educational integration. Every year, the number of Roma teachers is increasing and the geographic reach is also expanding: they are coming not only from Northwestern Bulgaria and from Sliven, but also from the whole country. Today there are practically no serious obstacles for those wishing to study in higher education institutions, so let's motivate thousands of Roma boys and girls to study in pedagogical specialties, Kolev urged. He also called for teachers to engage actively in the introduction of intercultural education, which helps Roma children feel proud of their identity and create tolerant relations among all children.

The subsequent discussion was moderated by Yosif Nunev. Stella Kostova from Sliven raised the issue of desegregation and the lack of policies in this direction. In response, Minister Valchev stated that he was ready to initiate legal changes that would make possible the desegregation not only of the separate classes in the ethnically mixed schools (which is already available under Article 99, Paragraphs 4 and 6 of the LPSE), but also of the separate schools in large cities.

Silvia Stancheva from Shumen raised the question of the abolition of the fees for kindergartens, arguing that children from the poorest and marginalized families should have longer training before the first grade. Minister Valchev assured that the Ministry of Education and Science supports the abolition of the fees at least for the mandatory 5 and 6 years of age and seeks to do so by 2019.

Anatoly Georgiev from the village of Dolni Tsibar made concrete proposals to support unified schools and introduce vocational education in them. The introduction of Roma mother tongue and support for the development of intercultural education were also widely discussed. How to raise the prestige of the teaching profession was one of the topics that sparked the most lively debates.

Summing up the discussion, Mr. Nunev said that Roma teachers and students are fortunate not to be lonely, as it was decades ago. At the same time, they have the moral duty and responsibility to lead hundreds or even thousands: this will change not only the community but our entire education system.

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