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.
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.
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
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.
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.