Discussion on educational segregation in Samokov
Talk on educational segregation in Samokov and on prevention of secondary segregation was held at the Ministry of Education and Science on February 14th. It was initiated by the Minister of Education Krasimir Valchev and it was also attended by the principals of all schools in Samokov municipality, the mayor of the municipality Vladimir Georgiev, the MP Valentin Milushev, the head of the Regional Department of Education in Sofia District Rositsa Ivanova , Assistant Professor Yosif Nunev, Deyan Kolev from the Amalipe Center and Raicho Chaprazov from the Arete Youth Foundation.
The participants discussed the problems of ethnically mixed education in the municipality of Samokov. Among them were:
· The percentage of Roma children in the majority population has increased over the years;
· Roma parents prefer their children to study near their homes. There are an increasing number of parents who urge children to go to school outside the Roma neighborhoods, but even they prefer to be in schools nearby;
· Many Bulgarian parents believe that enrolling more Roma children in schools outside the neighborhood will lead to a decline in the quality of education. As a result, they are ready to drop off their children from schools where Roma students are increasing.
Mayor Vladimir Georgiev said that the municipal administration is aware of the threat of educational segregation and is actively working against it. For years, the mayor has suggested that Roma children leaving the neighborhoods should be enrolled evenly in other schools, but often this is not observed by some of the principals. Particularly disturbing was the fact that part of the students enrolled in ethnically mixed elementary school in the city were re-enrolled in the segregated school in the Roma neighborhood in the upper secondary schools – because for administrative reasons they were not enrolled in ethnically mixed schools . Deyan Kolev, Raycho Chaprazov and Yosif Nunev cited as an positive example the efforts of the principal of Hristo Maximov Primary School, Antoaneta Nikolova, to prevent secondary segregation of the school and to maintain the equal enrollment of students from the Roma community and the majority.
After an emotional discussion, several guidelines for preventing secondary segregation in the municipality of Samokov were outlined:
1. Redesigning the areas for coverage so that more Bulgarian children can be enrolled in Hristo Maximov Primary School;
2. Samokov Municipality will participate in the National Desegregation Program, providing free transportation to all schools in the city;
3. The non-governmental sector, in conjunction with educational mediators, neighborhood pastors and other informal authorities, will work to persuade Roma parents who wish their children to study in ethnically mixed schools to enroll evenly in all schools outside the neighborhood. They will also work for the regular attendance of children enrolled in the neighborhood school;
4. Only one class in the first grade will be formed at Hristo Maximov Primary School, which will be ethnically mixed according to the fourth paragraph of Article 99 of the Law on Pre-school and School Education. If more Bulgarian children are enrolled, two classes will be formed at the school, both of which will be ethnically mixed according to the requirements of the Act.
5. A change will be made to the National Desegregation Program, which will allow education mediators to be hired to the municipalities and to the host schools through the program. The program will allow free transportation to be used by all students