Foundation for Local Government Reform
Adult Learner Education and Training in Bulgaria

Adult Learner Education and Training in Bulgaria

Questions and Answers [1]

December 2004

  1. Policies of Adult Education and Training in Lifelong Learning Perspective
  2. The Organizational Field of Adult Learners Education and Training (ALET)
  3. The Profiles of Managers of ALET Organizations
  4. Implementing ALET Policies in Practice

1. Policies of Adult Education and Training in Lifelong Learning Perspective

1.1. What are the reasons for inferring the need for a lifelong learning perspective in adult education and training?

There are a lot of challenges before the education and training organizations in Bulgaria. In the age of new information and communication technologies, markets globalization, etc., it is important to encourage commitment to Lifelong Learning so that individuals are able to acquire and update the skills necessary in a changing economy and to enable them to benefit from growing educational opportunities .

During the last few years due to the restructuring and privatization of the economy many people became unemployed and in order to find a new job they usually needed a new or higher qualification. On the other hand those who remained at their old job needed constant development of their skills in order to keep up with the dynamic changes in the working environment and the competitive pressure. Often new skills are required as entrepreneurship spirit and social skills.

Lifelong Learning has to adapt qualifications and skills to new requirements that arise from changing and developing methods within all production sectors. It also has an important role in the creation and support of an active citizenship and emphasizes the growing significance of knowledge as a source of value creation.

1.2. What are the main policies regarding the structuring of the adult education and training field? And in the last decade?

The mail policy of the Bulgarian government is centered on human resources and the widening of the European cooperation in the field of education, culture and new technologies. A concept for the development of a national programme for adult education in Bulgaria is already accepted. This concept was developed by: the M inistry of E ducation and S cience, the M inistry of L abour and S ocial P olicy, the M inistry of J ustice, universities, NGO s , chamber s of commerce , trade unions and vocational schools. Such concept creates conditions for the establishment of the national system for adult education in cooperation with social partners. The establishment of such a system in Bulgaria has the following aims:

  • establishment of social and economic reforms corresponding to the opportunities for adult education in Bulgaria
  • raising the educational level of the population
  • the extension of accesses to different educational forms for adults
  • cooperation with social partners at the national, regional and local level
  • extension of the public support for adult education

1.3. What is the participation rate to adult education and training?

The level of participation of the adult working-age population (aged 25 64) in lifelong learning is very low in B ulgaria (1.4% compared to the EU average of 9.0% and the 2010 EU target of 12.5%). (Source: Achieving the Lisbon Goals: The Contribution of Vocational Education and Training in Bulgaria, ETF 2004).

1.4. What are the main important target groups for the policies in that field? Are there significant changes in the typology of target groups with the adoption of LLL perspective?

- Unemployed people in need to change their qualifications

- Employees who want to increase their qualifications

- Civil servants

- NGO representatives

1.5. What is the recognizable orientation of the provision? Compensatory or Enabling?

Both tendencies are present in Bulgaria.

2. The Organizational Field of Adult Learners Education and Training (ALET)

2.1. What are the typologies of provision (liberal education, vocational training, special program, e-learning etc.)?

The forms of education, foreseen in the Bulgarian Education Law, are as follows: daytime, evening school, part-time, correspondence, tutorial, independent and distance learning. The daytime education form is applicable basically to learners of the school-age group, going through the process of compulsory education, and also to students in higher education schools, colleges and universities. The evening school form is organized for people working in the spheres of industry and services who have discontinued their education for various reasons. The part-time form of education is semi-extramural. In this form there is a combination between education on a daily basis and independent preparation - some kind of in-service training. The correspondence form of education is a non-attendant one. The learners prepare their assignments individually, receiving regular consultations. Distance learning, and lately also e-learning, has attracted increasing attention in Bulgaria, both in the field of formal and informal learning

2.2. Make a list of the providers of Adult Learners Education and Training, i.e. the organizations responsible for the delivery of educational and training activities?

Professional schools

Universities departments for further education


Private firms for training and human resource development

Licensed centers for vocational education

2.3. What is the relationship between the providers? Competitive or collaborative?

Both. There is a National Association of Licensed Vocational Training Centers with the main goal to protect the interests of its 40 centers before the state bodies and public institutions. The Association also aims to create favorable conditions for fair competition among its member centers and conflict resolution.

2.4. Could you point out the regulative bodies and the institutional agencies at the national and at the local levels in that field?

Ministry of Education and Science (MES) is responsible for the management of the education system.

National Agency for Vocational Education and Training (NAVET) - is a specialized body of the Council of Ministers, supports the MES in specific aspects of VETA implementation. The basic functions of NAVET include:

ЁЄ to elaborate criteria and procedures for licensing

ЁЄ to issue and remove licenses for vocational training centers and vocational guidance centers

ЁЄ to elaborate and propose to the Minister of Education and Science the list of vocations for vocational educational and training

ЁЄ to develop vocational professional standards for each vocation

ЁЄ and others according VET Law

The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is responsible for:

ЁЄ Development and coordination of the state policy and strategies for vocational training of unemployed and employed adults at national level;

ЁЄ Organization of the National System for Vocational Training of Unemployed and Employed Persons;

ЁЄ Analysis of the conditions and needs for vocational training of adults.

As of 2002, The Employment Agency (EA) is the Executive Agency of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and replaced the Employment Service (NES). Since 2003, the EA has been responsible only for active labour market measures (including training), together with its 9 regional and 122 local labour offices.

The work of the MLSP is complemented by a variety of Councils and Committees, some of which have a particular mandate for training, such as:

ЁЄ The National Consultative Council for Vocational Qualification of the Work Force. It co-ordinate s national policies and strategies for training and the acquisition of vocational qualifications by employed and unemployed persons.

ЁЄ The Regional Employment Committees also support the state policy on employment and training for acquiring professional qualifications.

ЁЄ Labor offices within the municipalities.

2.5. Could you briefly describe the national guidance system with a particular focus on adult provision? What is the prevailing system of accreditation and recognition of competencies?

The policy of the Bulgarian government concerning human resources is a component of the overall social policy directed towards building up of a society of learning and knowledge, towards broadening the European cooperation in education, research, culture and technology, in free movement of workers. This policy is stipulated in:

National plan for economic development 2001, Part IV Human Resources Development, sector on labour market, employment and professional qualification of adults employed and unemployed;

National action plan on employment 2001;

National strategy on human resources development 2006;

National and regional projects and programmes on employment and professional qualification.

A specific legislation concerning LLL has not been elaborated yet. The legal basis is provided for in:

The Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria (1991)

The lifelong education and training is a right guaranteed to the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria. Art. 53, Para. 1 Each person shall be given the right of education; Art. 53, Para. 6 The state shall promote education, shall create conditions for vocational training and retraining; Art. 48, Para. 3 Each citizen shall choose freely his/her profession and place of work.

The Labour Code (2001)

The Labour Code stipulates general norms concerning the right of education in the context of the LLL as provided for the active population. According to Art. 3, Para. 1 the state shall regulate in-service and insurance relations as well as matters concerning the state of living in collaboration and upon consultations with nationally representative organizations of workers and servants and of employers.

Within the system of higher education LLL is regulated through the Higher Education Act. The Law regulates the tuition of highly qualified specialists with secondary education acquired, the independence of higher education in respect of ideological, religious and political doctrines.

The changes in the national education system regulated by the renewed legal framework are directed towards the 1997 amendments to the Law on Higher Education and the reform of the higher education related to implementation of wide profiled Bachelor Degree which provides conditions for accomplishment of the main goal of the Strategy for developing higher education in the Republic of Bulgaria, namely: To improve the quality of education and conformity of the higher education system with the social and economic requirements while preserving the accessibility and increasing the equality of opportunities to acquire higher education. Taking into

account the last developments at European level a substantial updating of the Strategy is foreseen.

The Law on Higher Education was being amended with the purpose to overcome the unfavourable trends in the system of higher education in 1999. As from the academic year 1999/2000 all studies have become subsidized by the state budget. Conditions for gradually regulation of the enrolment were created. (The number of the dropouts in the system of higher education varies within 5% to 7%.). Several legislative changes have been adopted to facilitate the tuition for Doctor s Degree: the possibility for enrolment upon Bachelor degree completed, the cancellation of the minimal fee of

education during the last two years of the Doctor s Degree studies, the withdrawal of the age-limit for enrolment and the provision of scholarships for Doctor's degree students amounting of the two minimal salaries. In the sector of higher education the implementation in 1995 of the degrees by

profession and qualification (Specialist, Bachelor, Master) and of the Doctor Degree provided opportunity for further liberalization of the system. There exist mechanisms for upgrading and acquiring higher degrees through completing courses for higher degree by profession and qualification or through attending courses for different types of specialisations within the frame of one and the same degree by profession and qualification. Elaboration of individual curricula, which respond to the interests of each student, could be expected in near future. Nevertheless, the actual

legislation provides opportunities for individual curriculum and high level of eligibility of courses for the students with high academic achievements.

2.6. What degree of partnership between the organizations of the field is needed to successfully perform the implementation of the policies?

40 centres have established the National Association of Licensed Vocational Training Centers (mentioned above)

2.7. Who is responsible for the evaluation of these policies?

For formal education: schools and universities, responsible for evaluation of government policy is the Ministry of Education and S cience .

In Bulgaria there is no quality evaluation system in the adult informal education and training. The licensed professional training centres are one of the solutions. It is necessary that an integrated monitoring and evaluation system be created. There is no system for trainees recruitment, which has to include knowledge, skill, competence criteria as well as interactive training methods. There are no study programs on different topics for the informal training courses, seminars etc.

2.8. What are the sources of finances for ALET? Is it possible to indicate the percentage of each source for the total amount of financing? Have been there any changes in the distribution of the sources of finances in the last decade?

The financial framework of the national system is stipulated in the LNE and the Law on the State Budget for the respective year. Financial resources for the State Budget for the state-maintained kindergartens, schools and servicing units are provided by the state budget through the budget of the Ministry of Education and Science (MES). Financial resources for the municipal schools and servicing units, for the implementation of the state educational requirements and curricula are provided for and controlled by the municipalities. The annual cost per preschooler and per pupil in state-maintained and municipal kindergartens, schools and servicing units is quoted by the MES in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance in compliance with the state educational requirement.

In the system of VET the state-maintained schools are financed by 1. the state budget; 2. municipal budget; 3. sponsorship, donation, testaments; 4. own income; 5. national and international programmes; 6. other resources. Furthermore, professional colleges and centers for vocational training collect taxes for training from legal entities.

The major financial instrument for implementation of training initiatives for employed and unemployed is the National Employment Plan elaborated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy in cooperation with MES, Ministry of Regional Development, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Health and social partners.

3. The Profiles of the Managers of Learning (with respect to the organizational providers identified in 2.1. a profile for each organization)

3.1. What are the national label/name for these managers?

Usually they are human resource managers or so called training managers .

3.2. How is it possible to define their role in their organizations (a sort of school principal, HRM, a middle manager etc.)?

It depends on the organization, in most of the cases, especially in the private firms they are human resource managers that are responsible for the development of the knowledge and skills of the personnel, in Training centers or NGO s there is a special position training manager and the person on this position is responsible for overall organization of training and seminars conducted by the organization.

3.3. What is their position in organizational hierarchy?

Middle managers.

3.4. What is the stock of competencies they need to perform their role?

To have competencies in the following areas:

- marketing of training and education

- human resource development

- organizational development

- national education and training system

- normative basis in this field

- management

3.5. How they have been recruited?

There is no system for trainees recruitment, which has to include knowledge, skill, competence criteria as well as interactive training methods.

The training managers are recruited through recommendation or through jobs advertisements for human resource manager .

3.6. Do they need formal qualifications for running that work?

It is not necessary to have formal qualification more important are the practical skills and previous experience in the field of training or human resource development.

3.7. How long does it take to become managers of learning ?

Formal: four years for bachelor degree and five years for master. Since 2002 there is a special masters programme Management of Adult Education which is offered by New Bulgarian University.

4. Implementing ALET Policies in Practice

4.1. Would you describe the major debates and controversies in putting the policies in practice?

Research of the normative base and best practices in other countries and in Bulgaria. A good starting point is a picture of the current state in the country. In Bulgaria there are a lot of projects, which created good management and institutional practices. These are ministry projects, NGO, universities, secondary schools etc. It is recommended the results to be analyzed and applied in case, the practices proved their effectiveness.

LLL managers are advised to introduce study needs management. This means that first they have to make С research the training needs and possible ways of responding them. After that the customers of educational services have to be advised about the best suitable training through well developed consulting and monitoring.

LLL managers also have to think of the enhancement of the trainers qualification in order to respond to the trainees requirements and the psychological characteristics of the adult education.

One of the requirements of the modern training is the use of ICT in LLL and the maintenance of modern equipment, which is a duty of the LLL managers. They could provide them using their skills for mobilization of project resources.

At the end but at the last the LLL managers have to provide information services for all stakeholders trainees, trainers, and colleagues by keeping contacts also with European organizations.

Popularization of LLL is a managers task.

LLL policy for Bulgaria should be based on the European principles for LLL. It is necessary that a national legislation and strategy for LLL be adopted. Also various systems have to be created, accepted and applied in order to introduce the LLL principles in practice. These are national systems for control and evaluation of the quality; for financing; qualification system for trainers; information system with databases, national standards.

4.2. Are there examples of good practices in managing adult education and training organizations? Could you briefly sketch what kind of practices you are referring to?

Training Center with the Foundation for Local Government Reform offers short-term courses jointly with Sofia University. It has a small devoted team which is very flexible, proactive and market-oriented. The topics include: Human Resource Management, Project management, Conflict Resolution, Public Relations, Lobbying, Tourism, Territorial Planning, Social Services and others.

Chitalishta A very good perspective for the future of LLL could be the use of the unique traditional institution for developing cultural interests in Bulgarian society the "chitalishte." Their number is more than 3 050, 4/5 of which are situated in small villages. One of the main priorities of the National plan for economic development (2001 2006) is the "development of education and vocational training suitable for the requirements of the labor market." In this framework the "chitalishte" has been foreseen to become a center for retraining, new professional and social communication. One of the successful initiatives for extending the activities of the "chitalishte" is the project "Citizenship development and active participation through the "chitalishte" network. 25 Internet-centers in the smallest towns are providing information and organizing ICT-training. The "chitalishte" involved in this project participate in the National Program for Creating Capacity for Development, which provides specialized education and consultations.

JOBS Centers - The Job Opportunities through Business Support (JOBS) Project is implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The JOBS Project aims to foster a sustainable environment for job creation by supporting micro and small businesses and agricultural producers in regions of Bulgaria confronting high unemployment levels. There are 37 centers in the country providing training courses and advice.

IPAEI Institute of Public Administration and European Integration - provides training of civil servants from the administration and contributes to the building up of a modern administrative system in the country.

Professional Training Center with the Bulgarian Industrial Association - BIA's vocational education and training center offers programs for company training, focused on the practical performance, facilitating the participants in adaptation processes to the rapidly changing environment in the workplace. In reply to the environmental challenges the company training programs are aimed to establish confidence and appropriate skills for business performance in dynamic economic environment, to leave know-how in the field of up-to-date managerial theory and practice and to offer practical approaches and methods for successful entrepreneurship.

4.3. What are the future trends and the emerging policies in that field?

- Improving the access to LLL

- Achieving effectiveness and closer cooperation among the institutions involved in LLL

- Ensuring high quality of LLL

- Increasing the investments in LLL

4.4. What challenges the organizations of ALET have to confront with?

One of the key priorities worldwide - and also in Bulgaria - is the need to modify and diversify the traditional models of adult education. Individual training programmes which upgrade people's skills substantially will be very important in the future. This means that study programmes and courses must give more weight to learning how to learn, to social and communicative skills. Adults need also more student guidance and counseling. They need initial instruction and motivation to strengthen their self-confidence and support their personal development and thereby to form a basis for their vocational rehabilitation and career success.

[1] This report is prepared under the ILME Project financed from the Socrates/Grundtvig Programme of the European Union.

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