28.08.2018Free transportation for high school students
In our daily work Amalipe Center often receives reports concerning problems with free transportation of high school students, who live in small settlements and need to travel to the near towns, where they study. In which cases does the state budget allocate free transportation to secondary school students and how can students benefit from it?
Article 283, para. 2 of the Preschool and School Education Act stipulates that "students from settlements where there is no kindergarten or school should receive funds from the state budget for transport to the nearest kindergarten or school that conducts training in the respective group or in the relevant class, and vice versa." This article provided transport of high school students to the nearest school. Till 2016, this was only guaranteed to primary school students. The practical dimension of this innovation was not very large, as in small municipalities the closest secondary school is usually a high school with non-attractive profiled classes and students prefer vocational high schools or profiled schools with more attractive classes (eg language, and mathematical high schools in big cities).
By the end of 2017, through the State Budget Act of 2018, a change was made in Art. 283, para. 2 of the PSEA, with the second sentence being added: "The state budget for transport is also provided for students who travel daily to the nearest school in another locality in which they are trained to acquire a professional qualification if such training shall not take place in the area where the student lives." The provisions do not make it possible to choose a specific specialty, and to acquire a certain degree of professional qualification. It provides the possibility of students to have free transport to the nearest institution that conducts training to acquire professional qualifications, if there is no such in their homeschools. Costs are covered to the nearest professional high school or vocational school with professional classes, although they may be in a different professional field. The transportation costs to a vocational school teaching the profession desired by the student are not covered, if there is another vocational school, located closer to the pupil's residence, even if it provides different specialties.
The fact is that the new opportunity provided is in many cases not used, and pupils, parents and schools do not know about it. As we informed via the Amalipe Center website in January, "The funds for transport to the nearest vocational high school will be transferred from the MES to the municipality where the school is located. The high school should require those funds from the municipality and would pay to the students. ... If schools do not seek support for traveling students, it will not be automatically provided."
Amalipe Center calls its partner schools, as well as all other schools offering vocational training (vocational schools, high schools, and unified schools with professional classes) to actively contact the respective municipalities in order to take advantage of the possibilities of Art. 283, para. 2 of the PSEA!
We also call the MES and the National Assembly to initiate an additional text to the second sentence of Art. 283, para. 2 of the PSEA, which allows covering of transport costs to students who travel daily to the nearest school in another location where they are trained to acquire a vocational qualification, preferred by the student and his/her parents. It is inappropriate for the state to disregard the diverse interests and abilities of the pupils as well as the diverse needs of the economy. Recent text of the article encourages all pupils in one village to study in the same profession, although they have different interests and abilities, and the local economy needs a variety of specialists. The text needs to be slightly supplemented to support thousands of students and parents.
105 young people from all over the country, were supported by the Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance during the academic year 2017-2018 in completing their secondary education, by providing them textbooks, and covering their transport costs. It is a long-term program, which started in 2011, and is funded by the Trust for Social Achievement Foundation. During the first school term, the average success of the TSA supported students was Good 4.46. And the average number of unjustified absences was 3.26. During the second school term, the average number unjustified absences was 4.25 and the average success was Very Good 4.75. The annual average student success rate is Very Good 4.85. Sixteen students have no unjustified absences for the whole year. 27 of the scholars were excellent students, four of them Ivanka Petrova, Ruska Nikolova, Tsvetelina Bozhurska and Sheffkett Aldin have 6.00.( A)
For more information about Program results, see: www.romaeducation.com