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The Bulgarian K-12 Education System

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Science (In Bulgarian: Министерство на образованието и науката) of Bulgaria is responsible for K-12 education in Bulgaria. Education in Bulgaria is mandatory for all children aged 7 to 16. 

Education in public/state schools is free of charge, but state kindergartens and creches do charge a small monthly fee. This fee is set by the municipality in which the school is situated and is the same for all the children.  The K-12 education levels in Bulgaria are:
  • Pre-primary education
  • Basic education encompassing primary and lower secondary education
  • Upper secondary education: This level of offered by general secondary education, specialized or vocational secondary schools. 

Understanding the Bulgarian K-12 Education System

Pre-primary Education

Pre-primary education in Bulgaria is offered by nurseries and kindergartens. This educational level is optional and prepares children for school. 
  • Nursery (Детски ясли)/ Creches are for children up to 3 years of age.
  • Kindergarten (Детски градини) is for children aged 3 to 6/7 years. 
Kindergartens in Bulgaria are public as well as private. As per the National Education Act-2002 and 2003 amendments, it is compulsory for children aged 6 to 7 to attend a preparatory class at school or preparatory group at the Kindergarten. 

The compulsory preparatory class consists of the following subjects: Social science, basic skills, Bulgarian language, music, natural science, play and recreation, mathematics, sports, and arts.

Admission Procedure

Parents must fill in an application form and submit it along with the following documents: 
  • Child’s birth certificate photocopy
  • Medical certificate of the child indicating that the child is free from any contagious disease
  • Test reports for pathogenic intestinal diseases: This must be done 15 days prior to entering kindergarten.

Basic Education (основно  образование)

Basic education in Bulgaria is compulsory for all children aged 7 to 16. Basic education encompasses primary/elementary education and lower secondary education. Basic education in Bulgaria is free of charge at public schools, while private schools charge fees. 

Primary Education (Основно образование)

Primary education in Bulgaria is compulsory to attend. This level provides basic numeracy, literacy and science skills. 
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Grades: 1 to 4
  • Ages: 7 to 11
Curriculum: Bulgarian language and literature, mathematics, man and society, technology and home economics, first foreign language, art education, man and nature, music, physical education, and sports.

Certificate awarded: Upon completion of the primary education, students are awarded a certificate of completion of primary education (Свидетелство за завършено начално образование)
Upon completion of the primary education, students enter the lower-secondary education.  

Lower Secondary Education (прогимназиален  етап )/Junior High School  (прогимназия)

Lower secondary education in Bulgaria is compulsory to attend. This educational level sets the foundation for studying the basics of different sciences. 
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Grades: 5 to 9
  • Ages: 11 to 15
Curriculum: Mathematics, Bulgarian language and literature, information technology, first foreign language, history and civilization, health education, economics and geography, biology, environmental protection and chemistry, music, astronomy and physics, art education, sports and physical education, and technology.

Certificate awarded: Upon completion of the lower secondary education, students are awarded the certificate of basic education (Свидетелство  за завършено  основно  образование).

Secondary Education (Средно образование)

Secondary education in Bulgaria is optional. Students who wish to go for higher education are required to undertake secondary education.
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Grades: 9 to 12
  • Ages: 15 to 19
Secondary education in Bulgaria is offered by general/comprehensive secondary schools, specialized secondary schools and vocational secondary schools. 

General Secondary Education (Общото средно образование)

General secondary education in Bulgaria is offered by secondary comprehensive schools. 
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Grades: 9 to 12
  • Ages: 15 to 19
Curriculum: Computer studies, Bulgarian language and literature, mathematics, civilization and history, first foreign language, economic and geography, second foreign language, law and ethics, information technology, world and personality, logics and psychology, environment protection and chemistry, philosophy,  sports and physical education, health education and biology, art education, astronomy and physics, and music.

Secondary Vocational Education (средно  професионално  образование)

Secondary vocational education in Bulgaria is offered in vocational training schools and technical schools. This level provides general comprehensive education as well as professional qualification. 
  • Duration: 3 to 4 years
  • Grades: 9 to 12
Certificate awarded: Diploma of secondary education (Diploma za Sredno Obrazovanie) and certificate for professional qualification (Svidetelstvo za profesionalna kvalifikatchia). Both the credentials allow the students to enter higher education in Bulgaria.

Specialized Secondary Education

Specialized secondary education offer programmes in the field of humanities, natural sciences, sports, and mathematics.  These schools are profile-oriented. 
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Grades: 9 to 12
  • Ages: 15 to 19
In Bulgaria, there are specialized secondary schools that emphasize on foreign languages- English, French, Bulgarian, German, Italian and Spanish. The first year is referred to as “preparatory stage” and provides an in-depth study of respective foreign language. Then in the later grades, general curriculum is followed. 

Certifciate awarded: Certificate for secondary specialised education (Диплома  за  средно  специално  образование) 

Examination

At the end of secondary education, students must undertake state examination-Matura. Bulgarian language and literature is mandatory for all the students, and the second subject must be chosen by the pupil. Students who successfully complete the examination are awarded a diploma of secondary education and maturity certificate. This certificate enables them to apply for tertiary education in Bulgaria. 

School Year

Public school vacation dates are determined by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science of Bulgaria.  The school year commences in mid-September and ends in June.

Christmas holidays are from 21 to 24 December, usually on Friday, and lasts for 2 weeks. There is mid-term vacation of 2 to 3 days in April and at Christmas. Schools are closed on Orthodox Easter. It falls between March to April. 

Other holidays: Educational institutions are closed on national public holidays. Schools in Bulgaria are closed on November 1 as it is observed as Bulgarian Revival Leaders Day. Bulgarian schools are closed on all national public holidays. 

School Schedule-

Timings: In large cities, there are two shifts- 
  • First shift commences at 8:00 am and ends at 14:00
  • Second shift commences at 14:00 and ends at 20:00
Classes: There are about 7 classes a day of 45 minutes each.
School week: Monday to Friday
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