New school year begins in Bulgaria with appeal for vaccination against Covid-19

The 2021/22 school year began in Bulgaria on the traditional date of September 15, on an in-person learning basis, with the education and health ministers issuing an appeal for anti-epidemic measures to be observed and people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

According to an Education Ministry statement, a total of 706 857 pupils were heading to classes at 2357 schools across Bulgaria. This includes 58 593 first-graders.

Seven out of Bulgaria’s 28 districts have a full complement of teachers: Gabrovo, Lovech, Sliven, Stara Zagora, Turgovishte, Haskovo and Yambol, according to the ministry.

There are 436 vacancies for teachers in Bulgaria. The largest numbers of vacancies are in the city of Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and the district of Sofia. Kindergarten teachers, professors, full-time teachers, mathematics, English and primary school teachers are most in demand.

The Education Ministry said that 1039 psychologists are employed at kindergartens and schools, and 793 speech therapists.

The ministry said that at the beginning of the new school year, the last 40 000 electronic devices for online learning would be provided. A total of 15 500 laptops and tablets have already been ordered under existing contracts and would be delivered by the end of September, the ministry said.

Apart from that, a public tender has been announced for 24 500 tablets, which are expected to arrive in schools in October 2021, it said.

When switching to online learning, all pupils and teachers will have access to the internet from their homes. Schools will pay for this for children from socially disadvantaged families, the Education Ministry said.

“This will ensure mass participation in distance learning, if this is necessary due to the worsening epidemic situation,” the statement said.

If they have to teach online, teachers will receive additional pay of 30 leva to meet costs such as internet connections.

In a statement, caretaker Education Minister Nikolai Denkov said: “Observe the measures, get vaccinated when it is recommended in order to protect yourself and the people around you”.

Caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov said that unlike last year, face-to-face education for children is a priority of the current government.

“Schools and universities will not be closed unless the country enters the worst level of the epidemic, as outlined in the National SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic Plan,” Katsarov said.

“The refusal of many people to be vaccinated, as well as the systematic violation of anti-epidemic measures, are the biggest danger for schools to be closed. Let’s not do this to them. If our own health is not a sufficient motive to follow the measures and get vaccinated, let us do it thinking the children – the greatest wealth of our nation,” he said.

A day earlier, it emerged that only 30 per cent of teachers and two per cent of pupils in Bulgaria had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

(Photo: Education Ministry)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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