Funds for work with vulnerable groups in schools and kindergartens in 2022
A total of 1,490 kindergartens, comprehensive schools and vocational schools will receive funding for work with vulnerable groups in 2022. This is in accordance with Articles 52a and 52b of the Financing Ordinance. The order on the allocation of funds to specific educational institutions was published by the Ministry of Education on 13 May.
The practice of allocating funds from the state budget for work with vulnerable groups began in 2018. According to the MES classification, nearly half of the general education schools (primary, elementary, unified and secondary schools) have a concentration of vulnerable groups. Such are also one third of vocational high schools and one quarter of kindergartens. None of the specialised secondary schools has a concentration of vulnerable groups.
In 2022, the standards for resources for working with vulnerable groups are unchanged from 2021. They are as follows:
|group||basic degree||medium degree|
|1||52,00 BGN||39,00 BGN|
|2||105,00 BGN||79,00 BGN|
|3||157,00 BGN||118,00 BGN|
|4||208,00 BGN||156,00 BGN|
|5||262,00 BGN||197,00 BGN|
Below we attach answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the tools for working with vulnerable groups:
Which schools and kindergartens are eligible to receive Section 52a and 52b funds?
Schools and kindergartens that have completed information in the NEISSPO from the Environmental Characteristics Worksheet for more than 80% of kindergarten or primary students. It is also a requirement that they have at least 15 children/students in preschool, primary or secondary;
they must have a concentration of at least 20 % of children from vulnerable groups. Vulnerability is determined by the educational status of the parents: if the parents have less than secondary education, the pupils are at risk / from vulnerable groups;
be educated at pre-primary, primary or secondary level.
Why is there a difference between different schools and kindergartens?
According to the Ordinance, schools and kindergartens with a concentration of students from vulnerable groups receive an additional 52 to 262 leva per student for additional work with at-risk students in preschool and primary school. At secondary level, the allocations are between 39 and 197 lv. These are spread across 5 groups, with the lowest funding in group one ( BGN 52 per pupil per year) and the highest in group five (BGN 262 per pupil per year). At secondary level standards are a quarter lower.
Which of the five additional funding bands a school or nursery will fall into, i.e. how much additional funding it will receive, depends on two factors:
the percentage of parents with less than a high school education;
the percentage of parents with less than primary education
Exactly how schools are grouped is set out in Annex 6a to Article 52b of the Funding Ordinance.
Why are the standards twice as low in secondary school?
In 2018, funding for work with children and students from vulnerable groups only applied to learners up to grade seven, with schools with students in primary and secondary only receiving additional funding for primary grades. The Amalipe Centre and schools from the network “Every student will be a winner” initiated a petition and talks with the Ministry of Education to provide similar resources in secondary education. The MES supported them and from 2019 the resource was provided for both primary and secondary. In 2019, the standards per student in secondary grades were twice lower. From 2020, they were increased to 75% of the standards for primary grade.
What can these funds be used for?
The funds allocated are for base and supplemental staff salaries, as well as non-labor payments. The Director could use these funds to pay:
- the additional labour of the teachers involved in the Scope Teams;
- appointment of an educational mediator, social worker, etc. Any position would be acceptable, including guardian, firefighter, etc., the idea being that the person in question would assist in working with parents and the overall effort to get children back into classrooms;
- additional Bulgarian language classes;
- staff involved in measures to support access to education: essentially this means the possibility of increasing teachers’ salaries.
These funds cannot be used to make repairs, purchase equipment, or incur expenses other than salaries/fees.
Can an NGO be involved?
Yes. A change to Article 52a explicitly allows a kindergarten or school to use funds for working with vulnerable groups to outsource some of the additional activities to external contractors/NGOs, with the funds only being provided for the labor costs of the individuals hired to carry out the specific activities. This is provided for in the new paragraph 4 of Article 52a of the Funding Regulation PMS 289 / 12.12.2018, published in SG No. 105 / 18.12.2018.
The possibility to involve NGOs is one of the heuristic guidelines to be further developed and used.
Center Amalipe welcomes the provision of funds for work with vulnerable groups and the continuation of this practice! Over the years it has proved its necessity and the positive effect it has achieved in many schools and kindergartens.
At the same time, the provision of these funds can and should be optimised in several ways:
- The allocation of these funds is not linked to the achievement of results! It is entirely possible for a school / kindergarten to spend funds illegally and inefficiently without achieving tangible results. In fact, nowhere is it stated what specific results are expected to be achieved. This is a serious omission that the Ministry of Education and Science should remedy as early as 2023;
- The use of resources to work with parents is not guaranteed: although the allocation of additional resources is precisely because of the low educational status of parents, schools are not obliged to invest in working with parents. Part of the expenditure referred to in Article 52a(3) provides for the possibility of hiring staff to work with parents (hiring an educational mediator, social worker, teacher’s assistant, etc.), but the principal may not take advantage of this opportunity. There is no obligation whatsoever to incur all four types of expenditure defined by s. 52(a)(3), or any approximate percentage between them. The Director could use all the funds only to increase the salaries of the current staff, i.e. the innovativeness of the investment could be reduced to zero, and this does not violate anything in the Ordinance. The Ministry of Education would significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the investment if it introduced certain conditionalities, such as a mandatory percentage of expenditure to be used for working with parents.
- Consideration should be given to linking the support provided to the acceleration of the desegregation process: for example, providing more funding for first and second group schools that implement desegregation activities, etc.
- Introduce a minimum ‘flat’ rate for additional support received to direct more resources to small schools and kindergartens;
- Raising standards per pupil at secondary level to bring them up to primary level.
Written by Deyan Kolev