How to bring innovation to schools in Bulgaria

Days after the start of the school year in Bulgaria the reforms in the system of education in Bulgaria and administrative innovations are definitely on the agenda. There are schools in Sofia that already have electronic school records and interactive classrooms, the novelty this year is the Innovative Schools programme.

According to Ministry of Education and Science rules teachers must present their own innovative model of teaching to be applied throughout the school year, and make lessons more interesting, easier to remember and more fun. The programme also envisages cooperation between different schools as well as an exchange of new working methods, a new way of organizing the school environment, as well as innovative methods of management of the schooling process as such. 395 schools in 28 regions of the country have already joined the programme of innovative pedagogical practices.

“The teachers are even given the freedom to suggest new learning prorgammes, to integrate school subjects or to propose the study of new ones,” says Natalia Mihalevska, Director of “Education of Bulgarians Abroad and School Network” Directorate at the Education Ministry.

“The most important thing for this school year is for all teachers to be able to inspire school-goers and to be inspired themselves,” says Natalia Mihalevska. “They must overcome formalism in their work and devote their efforts to teaching, to their contacts with the children. It is not simply a matter of giving them knowledge, they must mould their skills, relationships and values, they must find a way to reach out to every single child. That is the way that long-term, effective and lasting results can be attained in the system of education. I know that that is something teachers do every single day and how much effort it takes. That is why this year the focus is on making small but meaningful steps every day that will help children improve in all things.”

Natalia Mihalevska quotes Education Minister Krasimir Valchev who often says that the role of teachers at school can never be replaced and whatever kind of technology may be applied in the teaching process, teachers will always be something more. “It is not a question of just teaching, of accumulating knowledge, it is a question of the human approach. A teacher who is fair and devoted to education is the teacher we shall remember all our lives.”

This explains why the Education Ministry sets such store by the role of Bulgarian teachers as the motor of change.

“There are many different innovations but what matters most is that teachers be creative and adapt easily. Everything they do must be focused on the given class, on their students. It is not a question of sporadic outbursts of effort for something different, teachers must display consistency in their work and create the right atmosphere for innovation in their own class, but at the school as a whole,” Natalia Mihalevska says and adds: “To this end the Ministry of Education has the idea of establishing a national prize for innovative teachers. Teachers from small and from big schools can be nominated by the headmasters, by different organizations within the local community at a regional or national level. The teachers awarded will form a so-called “National club of innovators” and will be given the right – by the Education Ministry – to popularize their experience in all towns and villages, so as to spread knowledge of what they are doing inside the country and abroad. They will be supported by Education Minister Krasimir Valchev for participation in world and European education fairs – in London and Dubai.”

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