Nurturing Futures: Bulgaria's Educational Support for Ukrainian Refugee Students

Education | February 27, 2024, Tuesday // 10:32|  views

Amidst the ongoing war in Ukraine, Bulgaria has emerged as a crucial supporter of Ukrainian refugees, particularly in the realm of education. As the conflict enters its third year, the number of Ukrainian children seeking refuge in Bulgarian schools has significantly increased, highlighting the importance of comprehensive support measures. According to data from the Ministry of Education and Science (MES), a total of 2,886 Ukrainian children, ranging from grades I to XI, are currently enrolled in Bulgarian educational institutions for the academic year 2023/2024.

This figure represents a notable rise compared to previous academic years, reflecting the growing influx of Ukrainian refugees seeking sanctuary in Bulgaria. In the academic year 2022/2023, the number stood at 2,035, while in the second term of 2021/2022, it was 439. The Ministry attributes this surge to various factors, including the provision of distance learning options in Ukrainian schools, which some high school students opt for due to language familiarity and accessibility.

As Bulgaria continues to extend a helping hand to Ukrainian refugee children, the state has implemented several initiatives to facilitate their integration into the Bulgarian education system. Notably, all children granted temporary protection are entitled to free education and training in state and municipal kindergartens and schools across Bulgaria. To streamline the enrollment process and provide guidance to refugees, regional education departments (RDEs) have established dedicated teams of Russian- and/or English-speaking experts.

Moreover, additional support is offered in the form of language training, with tailored courses designed to enhance proficiency in the Bulgarian language. These courses, varying in duration based on educational stage, aim to equip refugee children with the necessary linguistic skills to thrive in their academic pursuits. Over the past two school years, 1,036 children and students have benefited from such supplementary language training, underscoring Bulgaria's commitment to ensuring equal educational opportunities for all.

Furthermore, initiatives such as the project "Equal access to school education in conditions of crisis" under the Operational Program "Science and education for intelligent growth" provide avenues for additional or upgraded training in academic subjects. Notably, 262 students from Ukraine have availed themselves of this opportunity, further demonstrating Bulgaria's proactive approach in supporting refugee education.

In addition to language support and academic assistance, the Ministry of Education and Science has developed teaching aids in Bulgarian for Ukrainian students, catering to various proficiency levels. These materials, available in both electronic and paper formats, aim to facilitate learning and comprehension, thereby fostering a conducive learning environment for refugee children.

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Tags: Bulgaria, Ukrainian, refugees, education


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