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Outdoor classrooms-a breath of fresh air for Bulgaria’s education

Photo: 171ou.bg

It is again time to talk about Bulgaria’s educational system, after it became clear that as of April 12, 1st to 4th grade pupils are going back to school and that the rotation model of learning is to apply to upper grade students. Restoring the connection between children and nature is one of the possible answers to the future of education during the coronavirus pandemic and after. The 171st “Stoil Popov” school in Novi Iskar is one of the oldest schools in Sofia district (157 years old). It is among the Bulgarian schools that have already set up an outdoor classroom. A total of 256 pupils study at this Bulgarian school. Back in September 2020, the so-called outdoor “Green Classroom” was unveiled. Another outdoor classroom called “Classroom of Roses” starts functioning on April 12. “”We named it “Classroom of Roses”, because a number of cascade miniature roses were planted in the area”, said the school’s director Kanelia Kostova.

Painting in a museum may be a difficult task for the Bulgarian children, but they can start with a biology or a chemistry lesson in the park. The creation of more and more outdoor classrooms in different Bulgarian schools is a proof that we may be going in the right direction. 

“When we were preparing our training plan amidst the coronavirus pandemic and had to comply with all anti-epidemic measures, we realized that the 15 minute break time between classes was not enough for the pupils to spend some time outside and that we could not meet all requirements”, explained Kanelia Kostova. “That is why we decided to set up an outdoor classroom. It consists of five small gazebos. There is enough space for five students in each gazebo. We have complied with all requirements of the Regional Health Inspectorate regarding the distance between the pupils. They are positioned in a way that everyone can see the board in front of them.”

The main concern of the teachers was whether they would be able to keep pupils’ attention when they study outdoors. However, their worries were unfounded. Thus, an outdoor “Green Classroom” was created in the autumn of 2020. A schedule containing information about the classes that are going to take place in the “Green Classroom” and the “Classroom of Roses” is being prepared.

An outdoor classroom was set up in the town of Veliko Tarnovo as well. Several months ago, 7th grade pupils from “Petko R. Slaveykov” Primary School decided to roll up their sleeves and clean part of the schoolyard, in order to turn it into a cozy outdoor classroom, where they could study in the nature and breathe some fresh air.

A few days ago, it became clear that five schools and ten kindergartens in Burgas are to receive funding to create such classrooms and eco zones for outdoor learning. “This is an opportunity that can help improve concentration, because it offers a different model of teaching”, contends Yordanka Ananieva, Deputy Mayor for Education at the Municipality of Burgas.

“Until now, these activities have focused mainly on games. Now, the model focuses on learning, which is probably due to the long time we spent at home. Various opportunities for outdoor training are created. Learning corners are set up in schools and kindergartens. This model is quite suitable and I am glad that many schools and kindergartens are showing interest in it.”

Compiled by: Vesela Krasteva (interview by Hristo Botev channel of the Bulgarian National Radio)

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Phofos: 171ou.bg