COUNTRY PROFILE BULGARIA

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1 COUNTRY PROFILE BULGARIA GENERAL INFORMATION Full name: Republic of Bulgaria Population: 7.8 million (UN, 2005) Capital: Sofia Area: 110,994 sq km (42,855 sq miles) Major language: Bulgarian Major religion: Christianity Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 76 years (women) (UN) Monetary unit: 1 lev = 100 stotinki Main exports: Chemicals and plastics, food and drink, tobacco, machine-building equipment GNI per capita: US $3,450 (World Bank, 2006) TVE SYSTEM GENERAL STRUCTURE AND THE STUDENTS IN VET 1. The structure of the Bulgarian VET system is complex and includes several different types of schools. The typology and organization of the Bulgarian education system as a whole and vocational schools in particular is shown in Figure 1. Further, to put into perspective the size of the VET network, the types and the number of schools providing general education are summarized in Table 1. 1 The Figure and the Table together indicate that in terms of number of schools the VET system is about a sixth of the size of the secondary education system. 1 Bulgaria also has VET institutions which provide continuing education. For a discussion of these institutions please see World Bank (2007): Accelerating Bulgaria s Convergence. 1

2 Figure 1: The Education System in Bulgaria 7 6 Doctorate Bachelor Masters Specialist Age XIV 19 General Secondary Vocational XIII XIII XIII 18 s XII XII XII Secondary s XII XII XII L 17 XI XI XI XI XI XI 16 X X X X X X 15 IX IX IX IX IX IX IX IX IX 14 VIII VIII D VIII VIII VIII VIII H I J VIII 13 VII VII VII VII VII G K 12 VI VI VI VI F 11 V V V V 10 IV B IV E1 IV 9 III III III 8 II II II 7 I I I A C E2 Tertiary (Higher) Education Secondary Education Basic Education Legend A: Elementary, B: Lower Secondary, C: Primary, D: Upper Secondary E1 & E2: Comprehensive, F, G&H: Vocational Training, I,J&H: Vocational Secondary, L: Vocational College Table 1: Types in General Education Type Number of Urban Rural Private Total Primary (Grades I-IV) A Lower Secondary (Grades V-VIII) B Basic ( Grades I-VIII) C 516 1, ,782 Upper Secondary (V-XII) D Comprehensive s (V-XII) and (I-XII) E1,E Total 1,160 1, ,690 Source: Education in the Republic of Bulgaria National Institute of Statistics. 2. Vocational education is provided in three categories and seven types of vocational schools and colleges. The numbers of schools, teachers, enrollment, and student-teacher ratios by categories and types of school are summarized in Table 2. The categories are as follows: Vocational Training s: These schools provide avenues for students, who wish to pursue vocational studies as early as Grade VII (Type F), Grade VIII (Type G), or Grade IX (Type H). That is, students can shift to a vocational school prior to the completion of compulsory education. Successful completion of VET programs in these schools provides for semi-skilled occupations (level 1 qualification), with competencies in the targeted trades emphasizing routine activities, and repetitive tasks. Vocational Secondary s: These schools provide specialized vocational courses in selected occupations, and academic courses similar to those offered in general secondary education. Some of them (type I, J, K) provide for manual skills and 2

3 occupations (level 2 qualifications), with competencies in the targeted trades involving the execution of complex activities. Others (type J and K) provide for skilled occupations (level 3 qualification), with competencies in the targeted trades involving the execution of complex activities, including responsibilities for the work of other people. Vocational Colleges: These colleges provide specialized VET programs that provide the highest award sanctioned (level 4) by NAVET. They prepare for skilled occupations with middle-management supervisory responsibilities, with competencies in the targeted trades involving the execution of complex activities, including responsibilities for the work of other people, and for the allocation of resources as required. Table 2: Types of Vocational Secondary s in Bulgaria (2005) Category VET Award Type Duration of Studies in Number of s Enrolment Vocational Training Level 1 Number of Student- Teachers Teacher Years Ratio F G H Vocational Secondary Levels 2 and 3 I ,012 2, J ,650 12, K ,750 4, Vocational Level 4 L College Total ,208 19, Sources: 1. Education in the Republic of Bulgaria National Institute of Statistics 2. National Agency for Vocational Education and Training (NAVET) 3. The Ministry of Education and Science (MES), with support from NAVET, has defined a list of 264 occupations for which VET is provided. The characteristics of the qualifications for the existing VET scheme in Bulgaria are summarized in a recent World Bank publication (Accelerating Bulgaria s Convergence, World Bank (2007)). The scheme defines the duration and form of training, the admission requirements, the graduation procedures, and certification secured upon graduation as well as the continued education opportunities for graduates. 4. The quality and labor market relevance varies substantially across the vocational schools. Some of them are among the elite schools in the country, while others do not even grant the general education diplomas. 5. The VET system in Bulgaria streams students before the end of the compulsory education (as early as grade VII) into vocational schools and designated occupational areas. Students streamed so early in their education are harder to reorient than their general education contemporaries when they become unemployed, because of their weak general education. They also often have difficulty accessing tertiary education, and lifelong learning opportunities. In other EU and OECD countries, the streaming into VET typically takes place only at the end of compulsory general education, roughly at age 16. Many OECD countries have been also exploring the development of flexible educational pathways in upper secondary education, which allows the integration of relevant generic vocational skills in all secondary schools to respond to the needs of a diverse student population, and changes in the nature of 3

4 work. This is what the EU Bologna process is also aiming for. 2 To achieve that typically requires reducing the number of vocational education programs by broadening the definition of vocational areas; creating linkages between general and vocational secondary schools; developing a combination of school and work-based learning; and building bridges between vocational secondary education and tertiary education. 3 Figure.2: Distribution of Enrolment in VET Programs by Type and Level per cen t Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Art Business & IT Technology Services 6. Over 60 percent of vocational students are enrolled in technology programs at levels 1, 2 and 3, as shown in Table 3 and Figure 2. This reflects an old style VET mandated to prepare workers for construction and heavy industries. 2 EU launched in 1999 the Bologna process, which supports a series of reforms to make European Higher Education more compatible, comparable, competitive, and attractive for EU citizens and citizens and scholars from other continents. The aim of the European Higher Education Area, which EU hopes to establish by 2010, is to provide citizens with choices from a wide and transparent range of courses, and benefit from smooth recognition procedures. 3 OECD (1994), Vocational Education and Training for the 21 st Century: Opening Pathways and Strengthening Professionalism. OECD Background Paper, Paris. 4

5 Table 3: Distribution of Student Enrolment in Vocational s by Vocational Discipline and Level, percent Vocational Area Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Arts and Humanities: Arts Humanities Business & IT: Business & Administration Computing Technology: Technical Sciences & Manufacturing Processing Technology Physical & Technical Sciences Architecture & Building Construction Agriculture and Forestry Veterinary Science/Technology Services: Social Services Health Services & Personal Services Transportation Other Services Total Sources: 1. Education in the Republic of Bulgaria National Institute of Statistics 2. National Agency for Vocational Education and Training (NAVET) 7. New enrolment in vocational Figure 3: Enrolment Trends in Vocational Secondary Education secondary education has been in decline in the past few years. Enrolment trends in VET programs offered in the vocational secondary schools are summarized in Table 4 and Figure 3. The data show that Total M ale Total Female New Entrants total enrolment increased from 2001, peaked at 2003 and declined by 5 percent from that peak by However, there has been a steady decline in the new entrants by 16 percent in the five year period from 2001 to Also, unlike enrolment in general secondary education where female enrolment exceeds male enrolment, the pattern in vocational secondary schools is the opposite: female enrolment is less than 40 percent of total enrolment. The declining VET enrolment is consistent with the experience of EU8 countries. Since 1990, the share of vocational secondary in total secondary enrolment has fallen significantly in all EU8 countries, except the Czech Republic, as students have opted for the general secondary education. 4 4 Fiscal Efficiency and Vocational Education in the EU8 Countries, The World Bank,

6 Table 4: Enrolment Trends in Vocational Secondary Education Year Enrolment New Entrants Male Female Total Male Female Total Number of Teachers Student- Teacher Ratio Source: Education in the Republic of Bulgaria 2006, NSI. QUALITY ASSURANCE AND GOVERNANCE OF THE VET SYSTEM 8. Several government and private sector bodies are involved in the governance of the VET system and quality assurance. These are the following: The Ministry of Education and Science (MES): MES manages and controls the implementation national VET policies. It regulates and controls the provision of VET programs through a system of public and private VET secondary schools, art schools, and vocational colleges. The Minister approves national occupational standards, the list of approved VET occupations, and programs for preparation of VET graduates in the MES affiliated schools. The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (MLSP): MLSP develops, coordinates and implements the national policies for the professional qualifications of the workforce. It is also responsible for the development of the annual national plan for employment, and the determination of the needs for vocational training based on labor market analysis. Further, it participates with MES in the maintenance of the national classification of occupations. The National Employment Agency (NEA): NEA is an agency of MLSP, which implements the national policy for employment promotion and labor market protection, provides professional information and counseling, vocational and motivational training for both the employed and unemployed, and mediatory employment-related services. The National Agency for Vocational Education and Training (NAVET): NAVET, established in 1999, is a specialized body under the Council of Ministers mandated to license VET activities and coordinate the institutions involved in VET. It develops the national VET education requirements, the list of VET-related occupations, and oversees and regulates the provision of VET in the licensed VET centers. Government Ministries and Municipalities: The Ministry of Culture implements the VET policies in the Art s, and participates in the development and coordination of VET programs in these schools, and securing certification in the related occupations. The Ministry of Health determines the list of chronic disease and physical injury that are incompatible with VET programs and related occupations Employers Associations: Various employers associations participate in the development, coordination, and maintenance of the national VET educational requirements for the acquisition of occupational qualifications. They have 6

7 representatives in the NAVET Board of Management and expert commissions, and participate in the examination process to certify candidates for occupations relevant to them. Labor Unions: Labor unions designate representatives to the NAVET Board of Management and participate in the development, coordination, and maintenance of the list of occupations. FINANCING AND EXPENDITURE IN VOCATIONAL EDUCATION 9. Early introduction of VET at the secondary school level is costly, as Table 5 shows. Comparison of public spending per student in general and vocational secondary schools indicates that the average per student expenditures in vocational secondary education were 20 percent higher than the corresponding expenditures in general secondary during (see Figure 6). This is true also in all EU8 countries. There are two reasons for this: (i) student-teacher ratios tend to be lower in Figure 4: Per Student Public Spending on General and Vocational vocational schools; Education, BGN and (ii) the cost of equipping, upgrading, and maintaining workshops in a large number of relatively run-down vocational schools is costly. These additional costs might be justified, if the VET graduates were more employable than the graduates of general secondary education: General Secondary Vocational Secondary that is, posses skills that are in high demand in the market. Whether that is the case, will be explored next. Table 5: Expenditures on General (Upper) and Vocational Secondary s General Upper Secondary s Students in general upper secondary 148, , , , ,462 education Expenditures on general upper secondary 96, , , , ,346 education (thousands of BGN) Expenditures per student in general upper secondary school (BGN) ,148 1,439 Vocational Secondary s Students in vocational secondary schools 181, , , , ,649 Expenditures on vocational secondary 152, , , , ,456 education (thousands of BGN) 7

8 Expenditures per student in vocational secondary education (BGN) Source: Ministry of Finance ,015 1,334 1,776 8

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