Minister of Education and Science Prof. Dr. Prof. Galin Tsokov presented the Educational Mediator of the Year Award for 2023.

Center “Amalipe” and the Ministry of Education and Science held an official ceremony of awarding “Educational Mediator of the Year”. The award ceremony was attended by the Minister of Education and Science prof. Dr. Galin Tsokov – Minister of Education and Science, Deputy Ministers Emilia Lazarova and Marieta Georgieva, Head of the Cabinet of the Minister Natalia Mikhalevska, Director of the Directorate “Inclusive Education” Greta Gantcheva, Director of the Center for Educational Integration Lalo Kamenov, as well as the representatives of the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Program Thomas Staufer and Temenuzhka Kutevski. and Deyan Kolev – Chairman of the Center “Amalipe”. The ceremony took place on January 11, 2024 at the Ministry of Education and Science, shortly before “Vasilitsa” – the Roma New Year. The grand prize was won by Veselin Sandev, educational mediator of 1st Hristo Smirnenski Primary School, Omurtag, Omurtag municipality, Targovishte region. Find out who the other awarded are here. Many important messages were delivered by the officials present.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Dr. Galin Tsokov congratulated all the educational mediators for their hard work, saying that “mediators are a key element in our common efforts to return and retain children in class and therefore it was very important for me to change the mechanism and regulation of their work to ensure sustainability.”

“For the 2023/2024 school year, a total of 1,184 mediators have been appointed across the country, I thank each and every one of them for their daily struggle to keep children in the classroom,” Minister Tsokov addressed the education mediators. He also stressed the importance of teamwork between the mediators and the representatives of the institutions in the teams working within the inter-institutional Mechanism on inclusion, inclusion and prevention of dropping out of the education system of children and pupils of compulsory pre-school and school age. Over the last six years, some 80 000 children have been returned to class, 50 000 of whom have been retained permanently in school, and the work of mediators has played a major role in this.

Prof. Galin Tsokov also presented a plaque of the Ministry of Education to Deyan Kolev for his overall activity and consistent efforts to develop the network of mediators across the country. The Minister thanked him and the Centre’s team for their joint work in ensuring access to education for every child and student and working with parents.


In addition, the Minister noted that for the first time, the activity of educational mediators is included in the scope of the Collective Labour Agreement for the system of pre-school and school education. This step means that their roles and responsibilities are now statutorily regulated in the Ordinance on the Financing of Institutions in Education, thus providing funds for their salaries.

The Collective Agreement states that those holding positions such as ‘educational mediator’ and ‘teacher’s assistant’ must receive no less than 105% of the minimum wage for which funds are available in the school budget. This is a decision that aims to ensure adequate remuneration for the key figures who support the teaching teams and maintain the link between the family and the school. These changes will enable educational mediators to expand their activities in 2024 through additional professional qualifications.

Education Minister Galin Tsokov stressed the importance of education mediators, describing them as a key element in efforts to get and keep children back in classrooms. Until now, their activities have been funded through various projects, but changes to the Collective Agreement ensure sustainability and support for their efforts. This decision is a response to the challenges in 2023, when a lack of funding and the need for action have caused a real danger that all educational mediators will be out of work.

There was also a greeting from the chairman of the Center “Amalipe” Deyan Kolev, who congratulated all the participants at the ceremony, telling them the legend of Vasilitsa and shared:

“The celebration of Vasilitsa is linked to the legend of St. Basil – the advocate and defender of the Roma. He restored the bridge over which the Roma were crossing after this bridge had been destroyed by the Devil or God and saved the drowning Roma. There is something very symbolic in the fact that the new year for the Roma community begins with the rebuilding of bridges, and what I would like to wish our politicians, mediators and everyone present is that throughout the year we rebuild bridges. Many of them have been destroyed in Bulgaria and we need to rebuild them – the bridges between us.

The Amalipe Centre has been organising public celebrations of ‘Vasilitsa’ – the Roma New Year since 2010 – to show that we Roma are an ethnic community with culture and traditions and not a vulnerable group. Secondly, so that we can show that the percentage of boys and girls from Roma communities who graduate from secondary and higher education is rising every year.

He thanked Minister Tsokov for having, immediately after his election in June 2022, undertaken the necessary changes to the Funding Ordinance, through which schools and kindergartens with concentrations of vulnerable groups received special resources for the recruitment of educational mediators. “Thank you for saving the education mediator profession and for taking all the steps in such a short space of time to be a real part of the education system.” He also drew attention to the fact that after the regulatory changes, more schools will be allowed to appoint mediators with funds from their budgets as well, and funding will be used both from the new Success for You project with European funding. Deyan Kolev wished the Ministry of Education to develop a mechanism for the appointment of educational mediators in schools and kindergartens without a concentration of vulnerable groups, to recognize mediators as a profession subject to professional education and training and to support the Network of Educational Mediators.

In addition to them, there were greetings from the Director of the Center for Educational Mediators – Lalo Kamenov, who congratulated all present. During the month of January, many nations and communities celebrate traditional holidays related to Christmas and New Year. The Director also greeted the Armenian community in Bulgaria who celebrated Christmas and Epiphany on January 6, greeting them in Armenian. He also congratulated all present on the occasion of “Vasilitsa” – the Roma New Year, wishing them good health, happiness and success in Roma language.

After the award ceremony, students from “Hristo Smirnenski” school in Gulyantsi presented traditional customs related to the celebration of the Roma New Year. With the performance of the song “Djelem, Djelem” and the presentation of a traditional Roma dance, the students shared their culture with the authorities and experts from the Ministry of Education and Science. They ended their presentation by wishing health and success to all present at the ceremony, enriching the exchange of traditions and customs between the communities.

The ceremony “Educational mediator of the year – 2023” was part of the initiatives of Center Amalipe to celebrate Vasilitsa – Roma New Year. It was followed by celebrations in the Presidency of the Republic of Bulgaria, ministries and embassies.

Read more:

Veselin Sandev was selected as Educational Mediator of the Year

Vasilitsa 2024 – a bridge between traditions, children and institutions

The event is realised with the support of the Trust for Social Achievement and the COUCH project, funded by the European Commission.