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Growing interest in the teaching profession in impoverished Northwest

The number of applicants for teaching jobs in Bulgaria has doubled in the past two years, according to a survey carried out by Together in Class Foundation in schools across the country. The trend holds true even in the impoverished north-western region of the country, which has seen a steady trend of depopulation.

This sudden increase in interest in the teaching profession can be explained by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which brought economic instability to many sectors, and forced many people who graduated years ago as teachers to rethink their former livelihoods, turning back to the teaching profession.

"The stronger competition we are registering refers not only to young teachers, but also to teachers new to the profession - Gergana Efremova from Together in Class Foundation told BNR-Vidin. - As a result of the economic crisis, many people who have not practiced as teachers now see a good opportunity to turn to their pedagogical education. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, as the more applicants there are, the more likely the right person will be selected."

But it turns out that while candidates are qualified on paper, they usually don't fit the profile schools are looking for in terms of motivation, desire to contribute to children's education and teaching skills that are relevant to the realities of the 21st century."

In order for the aspiring teacher to fit into the school environment and meet the highest expectations for quality teaching, Together in Class Foundation is lending a hand to the newly appointed.

"The profile of successful teacher candidates is diverse, but there are a few things in common, explains Gergana Efremova. - One of them is the desire to be useful to students, the willingness to engage in education in the long term, to learn and develop constantly, the determination not to give in to difficulties, and respect for everyone's point of view. Our experience shows that when you treat your students with respect, if you have regard for their rights, but also insist that they fulfil their responsibilities, they pay you back."

Petya Petrova-Pavlova is one of the young teachers who chose the Northwest to start her career.

"Hristo Botev School, where I teach in Kozloduy, has teachers from Together in Class," she says. - Thanks to the good performance of these colleagues of mine, the headmistress trusted me too. So I think we all live up to expectations. My advice to young teachers is not to underestimate small towns and not to give up. There are a lot of quality kids here, good facilities and maybe they will be pleasantly surprised."

The young professional Emilian Rangelov teaches information technology at the school "St. Cyril and Methodius" in the village of Lekhchevo, Montana region.

"I did research on the neighborhood and the school and decided to start my career here, which I have no regrets about, he says. - Of course, I was also considering the alternative of teaching in Sofia, but after a conversation with the headmaster I preferred to stay here. The advantages of working in a small place are many - the school offers a wide array of opportunities, even though the region is sparsely populated."

The Vidin Professional School of Tourism "Mihalaki Georgiev" can boast four new teachers appointed in recent years.

"I welcome the presence of young people in educational institutions," says headmistress Evlogia Manjukova, "They are closer in age to the students and are more creative because they are motivated to succeed in the profession."

Evlogia Manjukova compares the "pandemic" school to an army: "We just wait for the order (ed. - to switch from face-to-face to distance learning) and immediately readjust to the new working mode." According to her, in recent years teachers have shown that they are ready to do the undoable - as long as the school year does not fail.

Compiled by: Diana Tsankova (based on interviews by Plamen Kotsev, BNR-Vidin)

Editor: Elena Karkalanova

Photos: Together in Class Foundation
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