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Adult education and training funding


3.Funding in education

3.3Adult education and training funding

Last update: 27 November 2023


The European Commission approved in 2022 the Programme “Education” 2021-2027 supported by the European Social Fund+ under the objective “Investment for Jobs and Growth” in Bulgaria. One of its priority areas is "Lifelong Learning" with its first operational objectives "Expanding opportunities for lifelong learning". The need of "Support for literacy and learning content acquisition for the qualification of adults from vulnerable groups" in order these adults to have better opportunities to access the labour market is defined as a challenge.

The leading and responsible institution in the field of adult education is the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and supported by the Ministry of Education and Science:

  • develops and coordinates state policy for adult education;
  • creates conditions for the assessment and recognition of adult knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning;
  • research, analyse and forecast the state, development and needs of adult learning.

Adult education includes: literacy training, vocational qualification training and training for the acquisition and development of key competences.

Adult literacy is an important educational goal. In order to achieve this goal, activities are implemented financed by the state budget and/or European Union funds and programmes:

  • developing programmes and organising adult literacy training;
  • development of adult education programmes for the completion of primary education;
  • development of a validation and certification toolkit for primary education and for the completion of primary education;
  • organising awareness-raising activities for adult education;
  • teacher training for adult education;
  • funding the salaries of teachers conducting adult education and providing scholarships to adult learners.

Adult literacy activities include:

  • Reintegration into the educational system of persons aged 16 and over who have dropped out of school and/or without basic education, using educational mediation activities (motivation for participation in education, work of educational mediators, etc.);
  • Organisation and delivery of adult literacy courses, and courses for the acquisition of learning content for the different educational stages and levels for persons with low or no education, with the aim of subsequent inclusion in vocational training opportunities;
  • Promoting the need to increase and promote literacy and to draw public attention to the benefits of literacy enhancement;
  • Inclusion in flexible forms of education for those who have not completed secondary education and providing opportunities for second chances through career guidance and counselling, volunteering, mentoring, etc.;
  • Validation of non-formal and informal learning outcomes through assessment and recognition of the correspondence between competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning and the requirements for the completion of a grade, stage or level of basic education;
  • Group/individual activities for familiarisation with professions; identification of the professional interests of the representatives of the target groups and counselling for an independent and conscious choice of education and/or profession for adaptation to the labour market at regional/local level; follow-up in the implementation of the education-labour market link, etc. to support the transition from education to employment.

The main target groups are people over 16 years of age with primary and lower education - young people, adults beyond compulsory school age, people with special educational needs, young people and adults from marginalised groups such as Roma, as well as those seeking or granted international protection and from other vulnerable groups.

Stakeholders are: participants in the educational process, the Ministry of Education and Science and its secondary budget entities, the National Employment Agency, the Social Assistance Agency, institutions in the school education system, municipalities, NGOs with proven experience and expertise in the field, social partners, where applicable, as partners/associated partners. 

According to the Employment Promotion Act, "literacy" is a process of education for reaching the general education minimum in the subjects "Bulgarian language and literature", "mathematics", "man and society" and "man and nature", set for the primary stage of basic education and is conducted according to curricula approved by the Minister of Education and Science. The curriculum for adult literacy courses, the programmes of study for adult literacy courses, and the teacher's methodological materials (Bulgarian Language, Mathematics, Man and Society, Man and Nature) and teaching packs for learners, that have been approved, are published on the website of the Ministry of Education and Science.

Adult training is carried out to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to take up vacant jobs, to meet future labour market needs for skilled workforce, and to keep people employed.

The main sources of funding for adult training for the acquisition of professional qualifications and the acquisition and improvement of key competences are: 

  • public funding, through the state budget. Significant funding is earmarked for adult training through the National Employment Plan, which is updated annually;
  • funding from European sources and instruments for financing employment policies (European Social Fund (ESF), Recovery and Sustainability Plan, European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE), etc.;
  • private funding provided through trainees paying fees for the training provided or their employers investing in upskilling their employees.

Programmes and measures for employment promotion are implemented in accordance with the Employment Promotion Act, after the approval by the National Employment Promotion Council and the Employment Commissions and after funding provision for the respective year. For the implementation of the active employment policy, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy annually makes estimates for their financial provision ensured by the State Budget Act.

The National Employment Agency annually submits to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy an Action Plan for the implementation of programmes and measures for adult employment and training, which on annual basis are approved and financially secured.

The National Employment Action Plan for the relevant year includes information on the financial resources, sources of funding, types of incentives and their amounts - both for employers, training institutions and participants in subsidised employment, training or mobility promotion. 

For the implementation of employment promotion programmes and measures, funds are made available for: 

  • adult training; 
  • scholarship, transport and accommodation costs for unemployed persons participating in literacy, vocational or key competences training - for the duration of the training; 
  • grant, transport and accommodation costs for unemployed persons for the duration of participation in the procedure for validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences.
  • wages and related social security costs;
  • group risk insurance for unemployed persons participating in training for the duration of the training;
  • costs of financing procedures for validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences;
  • vocational guidance;
  • other

According to their purpose, the funds are distributed as follows: to the training institution and to the employer undertaking the training, as well as to the persons; to the licensed institution carrying out vocational guidance; to the institution of validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences; to insurers licensed by the Financial Supervision Commission and others.

For the participation in training of unemployed adults, the Employment Agency's subdivisions pay a grant, transport and accommodation costs on the basis of a document issued by the training institution certifying the days of attendance. The grant is paid by the Employment Agency on a monthly basis. Accommodation or transport costs for the unemployed trainees are provided if the training takes place in a place other than the place of residence of the trainees.

Where the Employment Agency organises vocational qualification or key competences training requested by an employer (small and micro enterprises) for its employees, the training is financed with the equal participation of the Employment Agency and the employer. 

Training of persons employed in enterprises with full budgetary support is not financed. 

Vocational training centres have the right to charge adult training fees to learners and/or their employers. 

Vocational training of persons aged 16 and over in state and municipal schools is funded by the trainee or other that requested the training. State and municipal vocational colleges and vocational training centres may provide vocational training which is funded by the trainee or by another training provider. The organisation, implementation, material and financial provision of vocational training is governed by a contract between the director of the school, vocational college or vocational training centre and the those requesting the training.

The Recovery and Sustainability Plan of the Republic of Bulgaria, funded by the EU Recovery and Sustainability Fund, includes a project for the creation of a united virtual platform for adult education in an electronic environment, the implementation of which starts in 2022. The development of the platform will expand access and opportunities for quality adult learning and will allow anytime, anywhere learning. The virtual platform combines e-learning capabilities and resources, required quality criteria for online training and the provision of traceability, monitoring and quality control of training. A total of 760 digital clubs will be established across the country with up to date computer and other equipment and internet access where individuals will be able to engage in online learning supported by tutors. The digital clubs will be freely accessible, with priority given to disadvantaged people, including those who do not have their own equipment and internet access.