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09.07.2019Events for sharing results of the Springboard to school research project

Nearly 68% of Roma children attend kindergarten and other forms of pre-school education, but this is still significantly lower than the average for the country. One third of the children from vulnerable groups do not participate in any form of pre-school education, which prevents their socialization and easy integration into school. The abolition of kindergarten fees leads to an almost immediate positive change: half of the non-attendant Roma children are enrolled and the attendance increases by over one fifth. This was confirmed by the results of the Springboard to School research project of the Trust for Social Achievement Foundation. Amalipe Center as the project coordinating organization of the Central Northern Bulgaria presented the results through a series of events aimed at municipal administrations, kindergartens and parent communities in the Veliko Tarnovo and Shumen districts.

Meetings were organized in the municipalities of Pavlikeni, Strazhitsa, Novi Pazar and Shumen. Guests of the events and active participants were municipal councilors, mayors, representatives of municipal administration, heads of kindergartens, representatives of civil society, public figures and informal leaders. Besides the presentations of the project results, Deyan Kolev, Silvia Stancheva and Teodora Krumova presented the main challenges for the development of kindergartens and pre-school education as well as the Active Inclusion project. Almost all participating principals shared their impressions that implementing the Springboard to School project and paying the kindergarten fee resulted in bigger number of children being enrolled in them. 

The participants agreed that the removal of financial barriers is an important strategic investment that needs to be made to ensure full coverage in pre-school education. There different opinions about whether this should be provided by the relevant municipality or made via a national decision. In many smaller municipalities the main obstacle to the implementation of this important decision is the lack of sufficient funds in the municipal budget. The possibility of the Council of Ministers to help the municipalities by providing free food for the kindergartens and the whole day organization of the training process in the preparatory classes was welcomed by the participants.

At the same time, many have said that the abolition of fees can not be the only step. Suitable material base is also a serious problem.  Even in some of the smaller municipalities there are no buildings, appropriate for kindergartens, and for large municipalities this need is particularly acute. In rural areas, the problem is practically irresolvable, as the Rural Development Program hardly offers opportunities for educational infrastructure. The MES should support the municipalities and provide modern facilities. 

For more information about the meeting in Shumen see here

Information about the event in Strazhitsa municipality see here

Information about the event in Pavlikeni municipality see here 

Springboard to School project was implemented in the period 2014 - 2018 in 120 municipalities. Its goal was to increase the enrollment and attendance of children from vulnerable communities in kindergartens in order to increase their school readiness, which would support their chances of better education and better jobs in the future. The project was implemented by the Trust for Social Achievement Foundation in cooperation with the World Bank Impact Assessment Strategic Fund. Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance was coordinating the project activities in several areas of Central and Northeastern Bulgaria. Activities included coverage of kindergarten fees, medical examinations, teaching aids, etc., as well as lectures with parents to increase their motivation and their inclusion in the educational life of their children.

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