Bulgaria’s Education Minister met senior government and municipal officials and parents’ organisations on March 28 to discuss proposals for improvements to security at schools and kindergartens in the country.
Proposals emerging from the meeting included the creation of mobile teams to respond rapidly to reports of problems at schools.
The meeting, convened by Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kouneva, came against the background of wider security concerns, but mainly after a series of recent headline-making incidents in which aggrieved parents assaulted teachers.
The Interior Ministry has a security plan for schools, Kouneva told reporters after the meeting, held at the Cabinet office in Sofia.
Those attending the meeting included the deputy ministers of interior, justice, youth and sports, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova and the representatives of the National Association of Municipalities, MPs and parents’ organisations.
Fandukova said that more than half the schools in the Bulgarian capital city, meaning 105 schools and 99 kindergartens, had CCTV, all schools were connected to the security system, and 95 per cent had security guards.
The Sofia mayor said that statistics showed that where there was CCTV, disruptions decreased by 80 per cent.
In 2016, the Sofia city council has provided 1.4 million leva (about 714 000 euro) to provide CCTV in a further 53 schools and kindergartens.
In four areas of Sofia, an inspection had been established that some security guards were not licensed. Recommendations had been made to rectify this. Other shortcomings found were cars being allowed into school grounds, and a lack of panic buttons.
Fandukova said that private cars should not be admitted to school grounds and emergency exits should be kept closed but capable of being opened when required. Along with the installation of equipment, including panic buttons, schools should have a well-organised security system, she said.
It was still being discussed whether school grounds should be closed to external access. At the meeting, it was agreed that at schools, reception rooms should be set up for parents, and they should not be allowed to roam unhindered in school buildings.
Deputy education minister Diyan Stamatov said that several schools in the country had such schools, a place for parents to wait for teachers to see them. Such rooms should be equipped with chairs, a TV, water and coffee, a normal convenience that would not require much money, he said.
The meeting also discussed the idea of putting the 112 and 116 emergency numbers on the covers of school books, with a brief description of under which circumstances each should be used.
Deputy interior minister Tsvyatko Georgiev said that it would hardly be possible to have a police officer at every school, saying that the ministry had “many responsibilities and not enough police”.
He said that the ministry was exercising control over security firms in schools. The standard of security was important and it was likely that the ministry would propose amendments to the law governing private security firms, Georgiev said.