About Teach For Bulgaria

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About Teach For Bulgaria

The mission of Teach for Bulgaria is to encourage and prepare capable and ambitious young people to become inspiring teachers and leaders in order to facilitate the access to quality education for every child in Bulgaria. The organization was initiated and is generously supported by The America for Bulgaria Foundation, which provided a start-up grant for Teach For Bulgaria's launch and is still its major contributor. The foundation assists in strengthening a vibrant market economy and democratic society in Bulgaria, helping the country to realize its full potential as a successful, modern European nation.

Teach For Bulgaria believes that every child in the country should learn from teachers who support their students and help them unleash their full potential. One day the teaching profession in Bulgaria will enjoy the prestige and respect that it deserves.

The Challenge: The quality of education in Bulgaria is deteriorating. In recent years, the country saw a sharp decrease in math performance in both the TIMMS and PISA international evaluations. Bulgarian students rank lower than their peers from Serbia, Turkey, and Romania and far lower than those from Hungary. Less than half of the 15-year-olds in Bulgaria manage to meet the critical threshold in reading and math skills defined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Today the public education system in Bulgaria does not provide equal opportunities for every child. The relatively high performance of students in specialized secondary schools and the lower scores of those in regular secondary schools and vocational schools underscore the lack of equal access to quality education. Students from linguistic minorities and low-income families consistently score lower than their peers from more affluent families on state subject exams.

Many children do not attend school regularly and drop out of school. During the 2008-2009 school year, 15,500 students left school prematurely for a variety of reasons. In 2007, municipalities began optimizing the public school network. The school closures reached peak levels in 2007 (340 schools were closed) and the process slowed down to 111 in 2008 and 44 in 2009. The optimization of the public school network was a major driver for the increase in dropout rates.

Lack of resources and incentives do not lead to modernizing the teaching process. According to TALIS 2007, the majority of Bulgarian teachers rely on passive teaching methods. Bulgaria is ranked third out of 23 countries in teacher preference for passive teaching methods. The average teacher in Bulgaria is 50 years old. Over 38% of teachers are 50 and older. Only 3.4 percent are under 30 and 0.5 percent are 25 or younger.

Teach for Bulgaria prepares our teachers to successfully manage the challenges they will face in the classroom.  Our teachers learn how to plan lessons, how to motivate students inside and outside the classroom, how to involve parents in supporting their students’ engagement with learning, and how to work with other teachers and school administrators to ensure the success of their students.

The long-term vision of Teach For Bulgaria is to expand the scope of partner schools and number of teachers in the program, so that in 2021 200 young professionals enter the neediest schools in the country. Teach For Bulgaria aims to eliminate the functional illiteracy in Bulgaria in 20 years. The organization works to create more successful stories that illustrate effective ways to improve the performance of individual students, classrooms, and schools, regardless of children’s origin and social status. Furthermore, Teach For Bulgaria works with alumni of the program and its partners from the Ministry of Education, schools, NGOs, social partners and business companies to develop and propose new state policies and school practices that can improve the quality of education in our country.