Education in Bulgaria has always held a prominent place in the country's society. Over the years, numerous educational reforms have been implemented, leading to significant improvements in the schooling system and a marked increase in the overall quality of education in the country. These efforts reflect the value placed on providing accessible and effective educational opportunities for all Bulgarian citizens.
Instruction is provided in Bulgarian in the public schooling system, however, so expats often choose to send their children to international schools in Bulgaria instead.
Public schools in Bulgaria
Public schools in Bulgaria are relatively inexpensive, and EU and EEA citizens have the right to attend public schools for free. This, along with the quality of Bulgarian public schools, means that most local children attend schools in the public education system.
The Bulgarian legislature mandates that children must attend two years of preschool education. This makes schooling in Bulgaria compulsory from the ages of five to 16. There are four stages of education in Bulgaria – preschool (ages 3–6), primary school (Grades 1–4), pre-secondary school (Grades 5–7) and upper secondary school (Grades 8–12).
The academic calendar typically runs from mid-September to late May or early June, with breaks for Christmas and Easter. School hours usually run from 7.30 or 8.30am to 1 or 2pm.
Private schools in Bulgaria
An increasing number of private and specialist schools are being established in Bulgaria.
The curriculum in Bulgaria's private schools is guided by government regulations which mandate that certain core courses be taught. A handful of Bulgarian private schools offer bilingual education, while most private schools only offer lessons in Bulgarian.
International schools in Bulgaria
Expats who send their children to international schools in Bulgaria will find that school fees are their highest expense. There are a few international schools in Bulgaria, most of which can be found in Sofia.
International schools allow many expat students to continue following the curriculum they studied in their home countries. Expats can find international schools catering for German, American, French, British and Spanish curricula as well as the International Baccalaureate curriculum in Bulgaria.
Special-needs education in Bulgaria
Many laws have been implemented in Bulgaria to support children with disabilities in their education. A committee evaluates the children to determine the extent of their needs, after which a decision is made on whether the child will go to a mainstream or special-needs school.
Special-needs schools primarily cater for children with multiple or severe learning disabilities, as these schools are better equipped to support these children with their educational needs. All mainstream schools are legally required to provide facilities and teachers to educate and accommodate children with disabilities. Children with milder disabilities are often integrated into the mainstream schooling system in Bulgaria.
- Karin Dom is a Bulgarian non-profit devoted to providing a range of support services to children with special needs and their families.
Tutors in Bulgaria
There are many websites that feature and promote tutors in Bulgaria. Verbling, ApprentUs and TeachMe2 are three such websites where expat parents can find a tutor.
These private tutors can teach children online or at home, based on the parents' preference. They are able to assist children with learning the language or any subjects in school in which the child may be struggling. Tutors can also help children adjust to their new curriculum, or the language of instruction if attending Bulgarian-language schools.
Are you an expat living in Bulgaria?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bulgaria. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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