Over 20,000 students will study in Bulgarian Sunday schools abroad this school year. It has started solemnly and in compliance with the anti-epidemic measures introduced in different countries. One of the 245 Sunday Schools licensed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science abroad is “Raina Knyaginya” in Ireland. Based in Dublin, it has branches in the cities of Tullamore and Granard and in the school year of 2021-2022, more than 100 Bulgarian children started their classes there. The school in Dublin holds classes every Saturday and the Tulamore and Granard branches work on Sundays.
"Our teachers travel to these places every Sunday and this is an additional effort they make," school principal Zornitsa Gogan has told Radio Bulgaria.
“We travel because there are children who want to study Bulgarian and we want to give them this opportunity, so they can know more about their homeland and be proud of being Bulgarians. This is our mission and cause. It's very difficult as the foreign language environment and culture assimilates them and if they do not come to us to understand why they should be proud to be Bulgarians; if they do not know and hear about our ancient history and culture, it is very easy to lose them as Bulgarians. And we don't want that to happen."
The fact that in the first year of the school (2020-2021) teachers worked without remuneration and the funds collected by the parents in the form of fees were enough for rent and textbooks, speaks about the dedication of the teachers. In the current 2021-2022 school year, teachers can work more calmly, as the school has already been licensed by the Ministry of Education and Science, which guarantees financial support from the Bulgarian state.
The educational center in Ireland offers training in Bulgarian language and literature, history and geography of Bulgaria, as well as preparation for obtaining a Leaving Certificate, which is an important element of the opportunities for continuing education in Irish universities, Zornitsa Gogan says and adds:
"According to the constitution, Ireland is a bilingual country. That is why other nationalities have the right to take such an exam after the 12th grade, as part of the Irish matriculation. Bulgarian teenagers are interested in studying with us, as we offer special training classes. In this way, they have the opportunity to add more points to their score for ranking in Irish universities with the result of the Bulgarian language exam, if they are successful.”
Extracurricular activities are also part of the activities of Bulgarian children at Raina Knyaginya School. To a large extent, however, their implementation depends on the course of development of the Covid-19 epidemic.
The name of the school in Ireland - "Raina Knyaginya", was not chosen by chance. One of the teachers in it, Petya Seymenova, is a direct descendant of the heroic Bulgarian woman. "The name of the school is a symbol of the fighting spirit of the teachers in it," Zornitsa Gogan says. Radio Bulgaria promise a meeting with Petya Seymenova herself, coming soon.