Kiril Bankov
Adriana Tafrova-Grigorova
University of Sofia

Overview of Education System

In Bulgaria, the education system is a state responsibility with the Ministry of Education managing nearly all aspects of the system. Regional Educational Inspectorates, made up of civil servants appointed by the Ministry, are responsible for hiring school principals, in addition to managing school finance and administration. School principals are responsible for hiring teachers and support staff.

According to the Law of Public Education (1991),1 there are three levels of education: preschool (for students ages 3 to 6–7), school (for students ages 6–7 to 18–20), and higher education. School education comprises basic education and secondary education.

Basic education (Grades 1 to 8) comprises primary school (Grades 1 to 4) and presecondary school (Grades 5 to 8). Within the same educational level framework, students may pursue an additional vocational qualification by enrolling in a vocational-technical program upon completion of Grade 7 or 8.

Secondary education comprises two distinct tracks: secondary general (comprehensive and profile) and vocational education. Students may complete secondary general education at a comprehensive secondary school, over four years, or a profile secondary school, over four or five years. Profile secondary school students typically matriculate in Grade 8, rarely in Grade 9. Students may complete secondary vocational education at a vocational training school beginning in Grade 9 within a four year training period, or beginning in Grade 8 within a five year training period.

Profile secondary schools offer additional lessons in certain profile subjects. In mathematics, for example, students in comprehensive schools that do not offer a mathematics profile study two academic hours of mathematics per week. (One academic hour is equivalent to 40 or 45 minutes.) In contrast, students in mathematics profile secondary schools may study up to nine academic hours of mathematics per week. The mathematics profile curriculum does not cover significantly more mathematics content than the compulsory curriculum, but students in mathematics profile secondary schools devote much more time to mathematical exercises, experiments, and problem solving.

Languages of Instruction

Bulgarian is the official language of instruction in the country.