Regional dimensions of educational segregation: presentation of the results of a study of the current state of school segregation in all districts in Bulgaria

Educational segregation was examined from all its dimensions, together with over 70 participants, representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Regional Departments of Education in the country, experts from COIDUEM.

The research team conducted a study of the current state of school segregation, covering all areas in Bulgaria. The study shows the existence of schools with a concentration of vulnerable groups and segregated schools (including vocational high schools) in each district and municipality where they exist, and offers a map of schools that are at risk of secondary segregation. Types of activities are also proposed for the prevention of secondary segregation, as well as for the creation of a multicultural environment in the case of schools, the only ones in the settlement and educating students from only one ethnic group. Types of activities are also proposed in the primary segregated schools in the Roma neighborhoods.
The meeting was opened by Eng. Tanya Mihailova, Deputy Minister of Education and Science. Ms. Mihailova stressed that the Ministry actively supports the efforts that the Amalipe Center has been making for years and which aim to build a unified educational environment regardless of ethnicity. As part of a community with shared responsibilities, it is necessary to unite the actions for inclusion of each student and to encourage each student to discover and develop their potential, to overcome their difficulties and to learn together with others. That is why it is important to have the opportunity to find the way together, to direct efforts so that we can reach effective solutions, said Deputy Minister Mihailova.
This is the basis of the educational program “Every student will be an excellent student” of the Amalipe Center, added Deyan KOLEV and again focused on the basic principle of this program – to turn the school into a place for everyone!
This is the main degregation model for the introduction of intercultural education and work in a multicultural environment of the Amalipe Center, a model applied in nearly 300 schools across the country, and as positive results and good practices from the implementation, the meeting was attended by directors of Sofia University. Traiko Simeonov ”- Mrs. Galina Sakarova and Primary School“ PR Slaveykov ”, – Mrs. Daniela Hristova, who in the following sessions presented their experience and positive results.

Deyan Kolev presented the study, which is based on the data from the working map for “Characteristics of the environment” from NEISPUO, provided by the Ministry of Education and Science. The work card for environmental characteristics does not collect information on ethnicity, but on the educational status of parents, which categorizes five groups of schools. It is on these grounds that the expert team analyzes and presents the trends by districts and regions, dividing

educational institutions on several grounds, which depending on the concentration of vulnerable groups and location are divided into endangered segregation / secondary segregation and segregated into different groups. The detailed analysis makes it possible to focus on schools and kindergartens, where it is still possible to reverse this process or to apply methods of desegregation, with an emphasis on the two stages of education – primary and secondary education. For this purpose, recommendations have been prepared in three directions – to the Ministry of Education and Science, to the RWB and to the Center.

You can download the presentation here

As part of the expert team that prepared the study, Dr. BOYAN ZAHARIEV, head of the educational program at OSI and lecturer at Sofia University, added several aspects of what segregation really 

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Yosif Nunev added that at the moment segregation, unlike a previous period back in time, is a de facto, not legal segregation that harms children. He highlighted the historical changes in this process to the current situation, focusing on the negatives of segregation for society as a whole. The anxious feeling of inferiority, the poor mastery of the Bulgarian language and the lack of continuity are part of the negative consequences of learning in a monocultural environment and this significantly slows down the process of transition to the modernity of the Roma.
Deyan Kolev reiterated the results of another survey – National Representative Sociological Survey on Education and Status in the Roma Community conducted by the Trust for Social Alternative, which clearly shows significant progress in the transition to modernization of the Roma community, as for 8 years the percentage of Roma education has doubled, and the percentage of graduates has increased not 6%, but 6 times!

The experience of the municipality of Gabrovo, which three years ago made the unpopular decision to close the Roma school in the city, was presented as a successful practice for a degregation model. Gabriela Umnikova from the Municipality of Gabrovo talks about this process. With a Roma population of 367 people, according to statistics, in the central part of the city for the school year 2017/2018 in the III school “Tsanko Dustabanov” 74 students are studying, of which only 13% are Bulgarian. The level of education is very low, they present very low results from the national external assessments in 4th and 7th grade, and the consequences of this process clearly outline poverty and social isolation and limit their opportunities for realization. Then the municipality of Gabrovo decided to close the already segregated school and to distribute the children evenly in all schools in the city, and not in one reception room, in order to avoid secondary segregation. What followed was a very difficult and complex process involving many people, a series of many meetings with parents on both sides, teachers and principals. Teachers and principals have no experience with minority students, and fear of the unknown also plays an important role in their position. Then, with its expertise in field work and work in a multicultural environment, the Amalipe Center became involved and with many meetings, trainings, a number of joint events, the change of attitudes in this complex process began. Transportation is also a problem at the beginning of the school year, but with the support of COIDUEM the issue has been resolved. The educational mediator with extensive experience is also a great help. As a result of all these efforts, children are not allowed to drop out, and educational gaps continue to be covered by joint efforts.

Lalo Kamenov, director of COIDUEM with a rich work in a multicultural environment, spoke about the possibilities for financing such activities. As a pedagogue and a lawyer, he added to the negative consequences of segregation and the reduced quality of education. Much additional work is needed on the attitudes of parents on both sides, he added, to ensure access to quality education for all.

Regarding the national program of COIDUEM for

support of municipalities for activities aimed at degregation, Mr. Kamenov explained that it has been working for two years and provides various opportunities. The interest of the municipalities in this support remains weak, to which the Director called for the assistance of Deputy. The President of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria – Teodora Dacheva, who also attended the meeting. Desegregation is misinterpreted as a process only for Roma, he added, and this is most likely reflected in this lack of awareness of the need for this type of assistance. The activities are in several areas such as providing free transport within the settlement, providing teaching aids and materials in compulsory preschool education and students up to 7th grade, as well as activities to motivate for joint educational development. Municipalities that applied in the first year apply in the second year, which is indicative of the fact that the scheme helps. The new activity also allows the appointment of educational mediators, as the program itself is to be approved in April and open for application.

DEYAN KOLEV stressed that this is a great mechanism and opportunity to support desegregation in the regions where it is absolutely necessary and called on the representatives of the RWB to cooperate by organizing discussion meetings and presenting these opportunities to the municipalities that need assistance.
We are actively looking for models to stop this process, he added, successfully integrating the model of the Amalipe Center – Each student will be an excellent student, helping at school and inter-school level.
Such a successful model was presented by Galina Sakarova, director of Sofia University “Traiko Simeonov”, Shumen, who only a few days ago hosted the Minister of Education and Science Krassimir Valchev to present the latest innovation in the school – the newly opened STEM Center, which further enriches and makes the school facilities unique for the region.
The road that the school takes to become attractive again for students and their parents to enroll their children there is a long one, but at the same time crowned with many small victories and successes that build a stable, sustainable result and poses new and new challenges to the team of Sofia University “Traiko Simeonov”. The principal, Galina Sakarova, accepted the educational institution almost to close, with an extremely large deficit in the school budget and a building which, although built to all standards in 1978, with its four wings on four floors and 17 decares of yard, has not been built since has had no repairs or renovations and in an extremely miserable state, which Mrs. Sakarova describes with a smile that the roof is so flowing that a week after the rains they continue to rain. This does not despair her, but she aspires to start a large-scale renovation of the whole building, which after the transformation becomes unrecognizable and then the team directs its efforts to the meaningful process of keeping the students in the school. At this point, Ms. Sakarova recognized the Amalipe Center as a loyal ally in the fight against secondary segregation and began to implement all elements of the program “Every student will be an excellent student” for the introduction of intercultural education. Recognizes the positive change in attitudes and quality of school education, which, complemented by work on various projects and continuous efforts to improve the learning process and facilities, inevitably lead to the school becoming a “place for all”, which is the basis of ideology of “Every student will be an excellent student” – the creation of an environment where every student can develop his potential and, above all, a successful person.
The same experience with the application of the elements of the program “Every student will be an excellent student” is applied by the United School “PR Slaveykov” in the village of Dzhulyunitsa. It has been central for 11 years, says director Daniela Hristova, which they accept as a challenge, not a difficulty. In order to keep all Bulgarian children in the school and at the same time to accept children from the neighborhood in the town of Lyaskovets, Ms. Hristova relies on innovative models, work on various projects and the main thing – maintaining the friendly spirit of all those involved in the learning process. – from children and teachers to parents. The innovation renews and enriches their daily experience of working in a multicultural environment by participating in various conferences, events and forums to share good practices and experiences. The dynamics and diversity in the learning process is constantly supplemented with ingenious ideas for breaking up the space, outdoor classrooms, non-standard arrangement of the interior, many visual improvements and the creation of places for rest and relaxation. The school works actively in the implementation of the elements of the program “Every student will be an excellent student”, building on the work of students-mentors, the student parliament, the work of teachers in extracurricular activities and the club “Folklore of Ethnicities” and activating parents through the parents’ club.
With the proposed analyzes and good practices, the team involved in the project “WITHOUT SEGREGATION: Actions at the local level against school segregation” lays the foundation for even more active work towards developing successful desegregation models at the regional level and activating and expanding existing successful ones. such that the desegregation process becomes more successful and the effect more visible – equal access to quality education for successful, literate and positive children.
You can see more about the study and the full text of the report here: