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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice



Last update: 27 November 2023

National Development Programme Bulgaria 2030

National Development Programme Bulgaria 2030 was approved by Decision № 33 of the Council of Ministers of 20 January 2020. As a Priority No1 is “Education and Skills”. According to the Programme the main objective of the priority will be to increase the quality of human capital through the formation of highly educated, innovative and active individuals, who are able to successfully become accomplished professionals and citizens, and thus contribute to their own well-being and the sustainable development of all social spheres. Education and training policy will cover each of the stages of personal development, following the principles of lifelong learning (LLL). They will be oriented towards increasing the scope and quality of education and training, with an emphasis on acquiring analytical skills and developing creative thought, enhancing people’s ability to adapt to the technological transformation in time and the resulting changes in the labour market. 

Policies aiming to include and integrate children and students in pre-school and school education and to reduce early school leaving rates will continue to be implemented. Priority will be given to integrated policies that ensure the right of every child to quality education and to prevent drop-out, with a focus on children and students from vulnerable groups. Policies and measures will be implemented aiming increasing the share of high school graduates and promoting the participation of young people in formal and non-formal education and training. 

A stronger focus will be pointed on the acquisition of key competences for lifelong learning (including digital, language, social) from an early age, and simultaneously towards the formation of values. Important highlights in this regard are the acquisition of functional literacy, relevant (inter)disciplinary and applied knowledge and skills, as well as the development of creative and critical thinking, responsibility and problem-solving skills, and civic engagement. A key tool for policy implementation will be the sustained and consistent efforts to increase the attractiveness of the teaching profession and raise the social status of the Bulgarian teacher, to stimulate the professional development and to enhance the professional competences of pedagogical professionals, including supporting innovative teaching. They will be accompanied by investments in educational infrastructure and the modernisation of the facilities in kindergartens and schools, as well as in updating the curricula, which will help to turn kindergartens and schools into an attractive social environment thus improving educational results.

The applicability of school education to career development is significant. Key importance will be the expansion of the geographical scope of the dual training system and to increase the opportunities for pursuing it in different professions, which should be tailored to the needs of businesses at the regional and local level.

Key aspect of policies in the higher education area will be the Increasing coherence between the needs of businesses and society, on one hand, and programmes in higher education and vocational education and training, on the other hand. Closer cooperation and communication between the private and public sectors will be encouraged in the learning process and in research activities. These activities will also be indispensable in improving the quality of higher education, enhancing their role in generating innovative research and stimulating the relevance of curricula in a global context. In support of this, steps will be taken to consolidate public higher education institutions by providing financial incentives, focusing public support and increasing opportunities for public-private partnerships.

Basic strategic documents in the field of education and training in the Republic of Bulgaria (2014 - 2020) 

National strategy for lifelong learning (2014 - 2020)

The National Strategy for Lifelong Learning (NSLLL) has been adopted by Council of Ministers’ Decree No 12 dated 10th January 2014. The strategy sets out the strategic framework of the state policy in education and training during the period, which aims at achieving the European objective for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The Strategy has been elaborated in response to challenges, which on one hand have to do with our country’s need to overcome the consequences of the economic and financial crisis in Europe and worldwide, and on the other – to preserve the national identity and cultural diversity in the course of implementation of the cohesion policies.

The Strategy applies the definition of lifelong learning, as used in the EC Memorandum on LLL (2000), namely: “all purposeful learning activity, undertaken on an ongoing basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence”.

The document covers all forms of education, training, and learning – formal, non-formal, and Informal. It also provides recommendations, which would serve as basis in the preparation of annual plans, based on which progress in the implementation of LLL in Bulgaria would be traced.

The strategy describes the state of play and the challenges related to lifelong learning in Bulgaria. An analysis of the implementation of the previous national strategy for LLL for the period 2008-2013 was made. The place of Bulgaria with regards to the European headline targets and indicators laid down in the Europe 2020 strategy was described.

The strategy outlines the contents, the forms, the environment and the relationships between all the actors in the LLL process, namely learners, training providers, the employers, trade organizations, labour unions, civil society organizations, and other partners, the regions, municipalities, and local communities, government bodies.

The objectives of the Strategy are linked with the objectives of the national policy for development by 2020, namely high level of skills, opportunities for innovations, adaptability to the changes in the character of work, and full social inclusion. The Strategy was developed as an integrated strategic document covering all sectors of education and training from pre-school education via school general education and vocational education and training, higher education, continuous education and training, and validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning.

The main principles laid down in the Strategy are, as follows:

  1. Quality: transforming lifelong learning into a factor for the success and competitiveness of the citizenry, the institutions, and organizations by providing the conditions to achieve higher educational objectives;
  2. Equality and diversity: ensuring equal opportunities for all individual and collective stakeholders to exercise their rights and duties arising from their participation in various and multiple forms of lifelong learning, which take place in diverse socio-economic contexts;
  3. Decentralization: transfer of powers and resources from central government bodies and public institutions to the regional administrations, the municipalities, the setups of social partners, the non-governmental organizations, etc., and also to associations of training providers in order to ensure the access to lifelong learning activities for various target groups and specific participants;
  4. Cooperation: conduct of consultation processes at various levels, proactive dialogue and allocation of the rights, duties, and risks among all stakeholders in order to achieve the strategic objectives and priorities of the lifelong learning policy through implementation of the specific measures scheduled for the impact areas;
  5. Measurability: enhancement of the opportunities for monitoring and measuring the education objectives;
  6. Flexibility: preparedness of the stakeholders to respond, upon occurrence/ascertainment of unforeseen social and socio-economic processes, through expansion of the objectives and actions, which have been foreseen.

The Strategy defines the vision for development of education and training in Bulgaria by 2020, the strategic objectives and the indicators for monitoring of the progress.

The vision states that as at 2020 Bulgaria would be a country, where conditions have been created for full creative and professional success of the person and where the access to various and quality forms of lifelong learning has become a reality for all its citizens.

The strategic objectives and progress indicators, which have been set out in the document are, as follows:

  • Increase the share of the children covered by pre-school education and training from age 4 until first class enrolment age from 87.8% in 2012 to 90% in 2020;
  • Reduce the share of early leavers from the educational system aged 18-24 from 12.5% in 2012 to less than 11% in 2020;
  • Reduce the share of 15-year olds with poor achievements in:​
  • Reading – from 39.4% in 2012 to 30% in 2020;
  • Mathematics – from 43.8% in 2012 to 35% in 2020;
  • Natural sciences – from 36.9% in 2012 to 30.0% in 2020
  • Increase the share of those attaining professional qualification degrees in the broad areas of Informatics, Technical Equipment, Manufacturing and Processing, and Architecture and Construction to at least 60% in 2020;
  • Increase the share of those completing higher education aged 30-34 from 26.9% in 2012 to 36% in 2020;
  • Increase the employment rates of the population aged 20-64 from 63% in 2012 to 76%32 in 2020;
  • Increase the participation of the population aged 25-64 in education and training from 1.5% in 2012 to more than 5% in 2020 (a 4-week reference period);
  • Reduce the share of illiterate persons:
    • among persons aged 15-19 from 2.0% in 2011 to 1.5% in 2020;
    • among persons aged 20-29 – from 2.3% in 2011 to 1.5% in 2020

The following priorities for development are laid down in the strategy:

  • Educational approach and innovations in education and training supporting the development of all learners and contributing towards development of thinking, capable, and proactive individuals able to handle changes and uncertainty;
  • Raising the quality of education and training in the following directions:
  • Аcquisition of basic skills, which would evolve into permanently attained competences such as competences in the mother tongue to achieve functional literacy, literacy in the area of mathematics and natural sciences, technological and digital literacy, as well as foreign language communication skills;
  • Raising quality of teaching;Improving institutional governance;
  • Higher quality of training at institutional level;
  • Improving the system for financing education and training.
  • Ensuring the educational environment for equal access to lifelong learning and for active social inclusion and active citizenship.
  • Promoting education and training aligned to the needs of the economy and changes on the labour market.
The areas of impact are defined and analyzed in the Strategy. They are related to acquisition of all 8 key competences:
  • communicative competences in Bulgarian language and in foreign languages;
  • mathematics competence and basic competences in the area of natural sciences and technologies;
  • digital competence;
  • competences for learning;
  • social and civic competences;
  • proactiveness and enterprise;
  • cultural awareness and skills for expression through creativeness;
  • skills in support of sustainable development and healthy lifestyle.

The following objectives of the Strategy are laid down and based on an analysis:

  • Development of a coherent lifelong learning system providing various learning pathways;
  • Introduction and application of really working instruments for lifelong learning and their integration in a unified system;
  • Promote participation in all forms of lifelong learning: formal education, non-formal and informal learning;
  • Reduce the number of illiterate young people aged 15-19 from 2.0% in 2011 to 1.5% in 2020, among those aged 20-24 – from 2.3% in 2011 to 1.5%; and among those aged 25-29 - from 2.3% in 2011 to 1.5% in 2020.

The following activities are foreseen in the strategy aimed to meeting its strategic objectives:

  • Application of the National Qualifications Framework and elaboration of sector-specific qualifications frameworks;
  • Introduction of a system for validation of knowledge, skills, and competences attained through non-formal training and informal learning until 2018;
  • Introduction of a credits system in vocational education and training until 2016 and ensuring compatibility with the higher education credit accumulation and transfer system;
  • Development and expansion of the career guidance system and creation of conditions for formation and development of career planning skills, both in the pupils and university students, as well as in adults;
  • Expansion of the use of the European system of identification, assessment, and certification of knowledge, skills, and competences – the Europass CV and the European Skills Passport; 
  • Implementation of a system with defined characteristics for projecting the labour market’s needs for workforce;
  • Elaboration and introduction of flexible forms and paths for ensuring mobility within the education and training system, incl. encouragement of persons not covered by the conventional educational system through expansion of the learning opportunities range;
  • Elaboration and expansion of the adult literacy system for the purpose of ensuring access to the labour market;
  • Development of tools and platforms for e-training for including new target groups into learning, in particular, those with specific needs and those residing in remote locations;
  • Ensuring access to the LLL forms through cultural institutions (libraries, community centres, museums), athletic organizations, etc. focused on new target groups, in particular, those with specific needs and those residing in remote locations;
  • Implementation of measures for identification and removal of the barriers to the learning mobility, expansion of its scope, and implementation of a monitoring system;
  • Setting up partnership network among secondary schools and universities, research institutions, the businesses, and the local government, including for the setting up of learning regions;
  • Promotion of lifelong learning among all population segments as a factor for personal development, sustainable employment, and social inclusion;
  • Setting up funding mechanisms for the continuing training in support of each individual choice.

Together with the above mentioned, measures and actions at sectoral level are foreseen in the Strategy covering all sectors of education and training. Particular attention is paid to issues related to coordination, monitoring, accounting and financing. 

National strategy for the development of pedagogical staff (2014 - 2020)

The analysis of state of play to the Strategy covers the system for preparation and continuous qualification of pedagogical staff, the basic professional and social-demographic features of pedagogical staff for the period 2007-2013, continuous qualification and career development of pedagogical staff. Expenditure for education and training of pedagogical staff is analyzed, too.

An overview of the European policies for development of teacher’s profession is made in the Strategy, including teachers’ training, support for young pedagogical staff members, recruitment, employers, labour contracts, continuous professional development and mobility of teachers. The need for a national strategy on development of pedagogical staff is analyzed, too. The vision, principles, objectives and expected results from such a strategy are defined. Issues related to coverage, administration and financing the system are pointed out.

The strategy is in line with the requirements and the priority fields of action of the national Programme for development of the Republic of Bulgaria called “Bulgaria 2020” aimed to raise the living standard through competitive education and training, establishing conditions for quality employment, social inclusion and guaranteed accessible and quality education. The strategy is oriented towards the implementation of policies and measures for comprehensive, accessible and quality school and pre-school education. It synchronizes the policies for teachers’ and trainers’ education, continuous qualification and career development in connection to legislative, institutional and social base of the education system.

The Strategy corresponds to the wide-range measures for quality of pre-school and school education laid down in the National Programme for School and Pre-school Education Development (2006-2015), and other programme documents, too.

The Strategy takes into account the recent analyses on the levels of knowledge and skills of students (SABER 2013, TALIS, PIRLS, PISA, etc.) and sets the guidelines for development of the sector by 2020. The need for publicity of the principles, objectives, and activities of the strategy are also taken into account. Mechanisms for feedback and tuning with other strategies are designed, too.

The Strategy foresees measures for ensuring inter-sectoral and institutional cooperation, integrated approach for policy development and implementation towards education and training system advancements. It requires establishment of a mechanism for implementation, accounting, monitoring and control with participation of all responsible bodies and stakeholders.

The Strategy for development of pedagogical staff includes development of standards for knowledge, skills and competences of pedagogical staff in secondary school education preserving the Bulgarian traditions and bearing in mind the best practices of leading countries in this field.

The Strategy responds the need for continuous training and qualification of pedagogical staff in relation to constant changes at school and at the traditional out-of-school institutions with key importance for education, as family, social environment, non-formal groups, media, etc. The changes connected to social relations, social status, ethnical diversity in the Bulgarian schools, different language, behavior and style of life call for changes in the role and the competences of the teachers. Teacher’s obligations and responsibilities increase. This raises the need for continuous improvement of teachers’ qualification in education and in the particular subject-oriented area, as well as in development of ICT skills and competences linked to dynamic development of research and information environment and deepening inter-disciplinary connections.

The Strategy defines the structures and the functions, which should coordinate its activities in order to reach narrow-professional and wide-social competences of pedagogical staff. A set of measures are foreseen in the strategy aimed to up-date of teachers’ assessment and self-assessment mechanisms and the assessment of teachers’ work. Special policies and measures targeted to young pedagogical staff members are provided, too. Their goal is motivation, attracting and keeping them into this profession and provision of opportunities for career development.

The Strategy foresees the following measures:

  • Building-up a unified system for education and continuous teachers’ qualification;
  • Legislative guarantees of teachers’ rights and obligations in terms of professional development;
  • Establishment of better conditions for teachers’ professional and career development;
  • Financial and information provision of the education system;
  • Adaptive structures for governance of secondary education;
  • Equity and competitiveness of institutions providing qualification of pedagogical staff;
  • Achieving higher social and economic status of pedagogical staff.

The National Strategy for Development of Pedagogical Staff 2014-2020 introduces a model of an integrated approach and policies for raising quality of education across the country. It provides guidelines for action on national level towards meeting the objectives of Europe 2020 strategy. It is aligned with the principles of partnership, coordination, decentralization, conformity with law, and concordance.

The strategic objective of this document is that by 2020 Bulgaria should have developed effective system for education, training, continuous qualification and career development of pedagogical staff. The teacher’s profession should be regulated by state. Thus teachers’ profession should become more effective It should affirm teacher’s responsibility and prestige in the society.

The operational objectives of the Strategy are, as follows:

  • Development and affirmation of unified and non-contradiction system for education and continuous teachers’ qualification and career development;
  • Establishment of unified legislative basis for state-regulated teachers’ initial education, continuous qualification and career development;
  • Development of general and specific standards for pedagogical staff and a quality control system linked to differentiate payment and career development;
  • Development of a system of special measures targeted to attract, retain and develop both pedagogical staff members aged up to 35 and high professionals in the secondary education system. 

Strategy for reducing the share of early school leavers (2013 – 2020)

The Strategy on Reducing the Share of Early School Leavers (ESL) 2013-2020 is aligned with the objective of the strategic framework of Bulgaria 2020. Bulgaria 2020 is the national programme for development of the Republic of Bulgaria. It is aimed to improving the standard of life through competitive education and training, establishment of conditions for quality employment and social inclusion, and guaranteeing quality and assessable health care. Bulgaria 2020 is adopted by the Council of development to the Council of Ministers in 2011. 

The Strategy is oriented towards implementation of policies and measures aimed to meeting the target of a share of ESL less that 11%. The same target is set in the National Reforms Programme of the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2020), national target No 4.

The Strategy is in line with wide-range measures aimed to improve the assess and the quality of pre=school and school education laid down in the National Strategy on Child (2008-2018), the National Programme for Pre-School and School Education Development (2006-2015), the National Youth Strategy (2010-2020), the Strategy on Educational Integration of Children and Students from Ethnical Minority Groups developed by the Ministry of Education and Science, the National Strategy on Integration of Roma in the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2020), the Youth Act, the National Strategy on Reducing the Poverty and Promoting Social Inclusion by 2020. The Strategy is in accordance with all the 28 regional strategies on social services development (2011-2015).

The Strategy on Reducing the Share of Early School Leavers (ESL) 2013-2020 is bound to policies and measures set in key European documents and initiatives in the field of reducing ESL, for example Youth in Action, Agenda for New Skills and Jobs, and European Platform Against Poverty.

The Strategy takes into account the need for wide-spectrum of policies and measures targeted to ensure successful progression between different education degrees, flexible learning pathways for early school leavers to returning back into the education and training system and acquire key competencies, a variety of training forms, validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning.

The Strategy is fully in line with the Council Recommendation dated 28th June 2011 concerning the policies for reducing ESL (2011/C 191/01), as well as with the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training.

The Strategy expands and provides for more details in strategic and legislative context in 3 main courses of action:

  1. Prevention of ESL;
  2. Intervention of ESL;
  3. Compensation of ESL.

In the same time the Strategy requires establishment of a national horizontal coordination mechanism for implementation, reporting, monitoring and control of implemented policies, with participation of all bodies in charge and all the stakeholders.

The strategic vision is that every Bulgarian citizen is provided with an access to the education system and an opportunity for development through education, which best corresponds to his/her personal needs and provides for successful professional realization. Thus he/she contributes for development of a dynamic knowledge-based economy, social solidarity and quality of life at local and national level.

The leading principles of the Strategy are conformity with law, coherency, partnership, transparency and dissemination of measures and results, continuity, sustainability, good timing, reporting, monitoring and control, innovativeness.

The strategic objective, which is laid down in the document is provision of equal assess and support for development and inclusiveness within the pre-school and school education system of children and youth as a pre-requisite for equal social inclusion and complete personal realization, and participation in the development of the local community and the country.

The operational objectives of the Strategy are, as follows:

  1. Development, implementation and monitoring of a comprehensive policy on better coverage of learners within the education and training system based on inter-sectoral cooperation with clear distribution of responsibilities and interaction between different levels of governance;
  2. Identification of ESL-related risk factors with aim to reduce the respective consequences;
  3. Promoting inclusion in educat6ion of groups at risk and inclusive education development;
  4. Increased diversity and effectiveness of mechanisms and stimuli for inclusion in education and training;
  5. Building up wide public trust and support in relation to the policies for prevention and reduction of ESL.

The following results of the implementation of the strategy are foreseen:

  • developed inter-sectoral coordination mechanism on national, regional, and municipal level, with policies, plans, and measures based on systematic monitoring, analysis, assessment, regular reporting and transparency, counteractions, distribution of resources, investments according to the needs on the respective levels;
  • improved existing mechanisms and procedures for information flow aimed to improve the functioning of the Register of Children and Student Flow, which should allow tracking of each particular case of a child/student at risk of ESL;
  • better coverage of children and pupils in pre-school and school education through promoting enrolment and regular school attendance;
  • provision of inter-sectoral services for education and social support;
  • improved learning outcomes and provision of favourable educational support for development of every child and student;
  • match between education and training and labour market needs;

Meeting the strategic and the operational objectives of the Strategy is carrying out through:

  • Prevention aimed to prevent both the appearance of pre-requisites for early school leaving,  and limitation of ESL favourable conditions.
  • Intervention aimed to create conditions for limitation of early school leaving bearing in mind concrete threats at individual level following the principle of problem solving at lowest level.
  • Compensation aimed to support ESL to include back in education by providing them with a variety of assessable pathways to return back into the education and training system and/or to acquire a qualification.

The following key measures are laid down in the Strategy:

                         I. Preventive measures

  1. Provision of a positive educational environment – school environment, relationships, governance;
  2. Raising quality of education as a pre-requisite for personal development of every child and student and prevention of ESL;
  3. Provision of an access to education for children and students of vulnerable ethnical groups; 
  4. Access to quality education for children and students with special education needs;

                       II. Integration measures

  1. Increasing parents’ participation and engagement;
  2. Affirmation of individual and group mentoring;
  3. Provision of career guidance and consulting services;
  4. Development of models for acquisition of a vocational qualification;
  5. Support for children’ and students’ development;
  6. Implementation of early alert system;
  7. Development of interest-based activities;
  8. Support of students at risk of ESL due to financial issues;

                     III. ESL Compensatory Measures

  1. Creation of suitable conditions for re-integration of ESL back within the education and training system;
  2. Building up of a national system for validation of competencies acquired through non-formal and/or informal learning.