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13.06.2019Roundtable “The problems of professional education in multicultural environment”

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:

www.interreg-danube.eu/rare

https://www.facebook.com/RARE-Roma-as-Resources-153725308477841/

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