Bulgarian ‘Matura’: Students are gearing up for big exams

Written by on May 12, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgarian ‘Matura’: Students are gearing up for big exams

Thousand of students all over Bulgaria are preparing for their Matura exams. This applies to 12-graders who are about to leave school, and to 7-graders, who are on their way into secondary schools.

The final Matura, the one for 12-graders, gives high school graduates the right to move on into higher or vocational education. In the case of the 7th-graders in this country, the outcome of their Matura exams will determine which secondary schools they can apply for. The latter exam is also known as ‘external evaluation’.

May 19th is the first big day, when Bulgarian and Literature exams are scheduled, for both 12th and 7th graders. On May 22nd, the second exam will take place, and later this month the last one. Students in 12th grade have the choice between certain subjects.

Tanya Mihaylova is the new Deputy Minister of Education and Science. According to her, the regular Matura sessions will be divided into three modules this year, for the first time. This measure is supposed to prevent cheating by copying as well as buying matriculation, a practice, which is wide spread in Bulgaria, so far.

Also, CCTV cameras will be used. Not all schools have those, but, a week before the Matura, Mihaylova said her ministry was “ready to solve this problem”. It was the personal responsibility of those who took the exams, not to cheat, she added. Talking too much about anti-cheating measures was not wise anyway, the Deputy Minister stated.

Generally, the Bulgarian education system is confronted with harsh criticism from parents. Many of them claim, their children did not learn anything at school, which is why they needed a lot of private classes. The latter are a big business in Bulgaria. But parents with average Bulgarian salaries can hardly afford those, poor families can not pay for private classes at all.

The problem seems to have several roots. One of them is the lack of motivation on the part of many teachers, which, in part, has to do with teacher salaries. Those are scandalously low. On top of that, the average age of teachers in Bulgaria is very high, modern forms of teaching are hardly being used.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s new government wants to improve things. Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev just announced a 15 percent salary increase for September. In the course of this government’s four-year term, he wants to double teacher’s salaries in the country.

Velchev said yesterday, young Bulgarians had to be motivated to become teachers. Also he wants to make teaching in villages and smaller towns more attractive. More effective inspections and evaluations of schools is something the government wants to look into next year.

In 2012, teachers in state schools had received their last raise. They got a modest 8 percent.

According to the E.U.’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, the average gross annual salary of a teacher in Bulgaria is the equivalent of 3681 Euro, the lowest in Europe. In some Western European countries, that amount would be close to an average monthly salary for teachers.

Many of the steps planned by the government will affect future generations of students, rather than those preparing for their Matura right now.

In Sofia, 7th-graders need an extremely high average, in order to get into the highest rated schools, such as Galabov School, which offers intensive German classes throughout 8th grade. Many of those are being taught by teachers from Germany from the institution’s German Language Department, which relies on funds from Germany. The requirement would be something like an average of 6.0, which is the highest grade achievable in Bulgaria.

In the past days, parents of 7th-grade students were busy filling out extensive priority lists and dealing with bureaucracy, while many students went through mock Maturas, in order to get used to what the real thing might feel like.

 

 

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com