A total of 63 966 first-graders will start school in Bulgaria on September 15 2014, slightly fewer than at the start of the school year in 2013 and a few weeks after the country’s Education Ministry reported a shortage of school teachers in subjects such as English and mathematics.
The start of the new school year in Bulgaria comes after a summer in which various parts of the country were hit by serious floods, but caretaker Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki issued an assurance that schools everywhere would open as scheduled, including in disaster-hit areas.
While traditionally school pupils bear flowers to school for their teachers on the first day, an initiative is calling on people, rather than buying flowers, to donate to assist children in Mizia, a Bulgarian town inundated by floods at the beginning of August. Plans were for there to be cash donation boxes at all schools.
Additional police will be deployed for stepped-up security on the first school day.
Bulgaria’s Education Ministry said that the largest number of first-graders on September 15 would be in capital city Sofia (9989), followed by Plovdiv (6363) and Bourgas (4552).
The Vidin region, in Bulgaria’s impoverished north-west, was to see the smallest intake: only 752 first-graders.
Overall, the new school year on September 15 2014 sees 370 fewer new first-graders than a year before.
According to the National Statistical Institute, in 2013/14 the number of pupils in “general” (meaning, non-vocational) schools in Bulgaria was 606 277. Figures for the new school year have not been compiled.
A few weeks before schools were due to open, the Education Ministry said that it had a shortage of 1900 teachers, the largest single group being English teachers, 173.
The ministry said that it needed a further 100 mathematics teachers. The number of Bulgarian language and literature – as the subject is officially termed – teachers was 77 short.
Depending on grade, the school year for Bulgarian children ends between mid-May and the end of June 2015.