Education in Bulgaria The first schools in Bulgaria began opening in the early nineteenth century first for boys and then for girls. In 1878 the government passed the Temporary Law on National Schools. Several universities were established in the period 1878 – 1918. During the communist era, the Soviet Union had a great impact on Bulgarian educational system. After the end of the Zhivkov Era (1979), the Bulgarian educational system was completely reconstructed. Structure of the Educational System The system consists of four levels: Pre-Primary Education Elementary Education Secondary Education Higher Education Българската образователна система Pre-Primary Education Pre-primary education embraces children between 3 and 6/7 years old. Optional kindergarten education is provided for children between three and six years old. However, prior to starting school, children must attend a one-year pre-school program. Elementary Education Elementary education (grades 1 - 8) includes primary school (grades 1 - 4) and junior high school (grades 5 - 8). Certificate for Primary Education and Certificate for Elementary Education are obtained upon successful completion of grade 4 and 8 respectively. High schools use grades from the Certificate for Elementary Education as a major admissions criterion. Duration of compulsory education: Age of entry: 7 Age of exit: 19 Structure of school system: Basic First Stage Type of school providing this education: Natchalno utchilischte (form I to IV) Length of program in years: 4 Age level from: 7 to: 10 Certificate/diploma awarded: Grade IV Leaving Certificate Basic Second Stage Type of school providing this education: Progimnazialno utchilichte (form V to VIII) Length of program in years: 4 Age level from: 10 to: 14 Secondary Education Secondary education comprises comprehensive high schools and vocational school. The admission to comprehensive schools is based upon grades from entry exams in Bulgarian and/or mathematics as well as grades in junior high school. Students can enroll in high school after the successful completion of grades 7 or 8. Usually, those who want to study languages, mathematics, or informatics in-depth apply to high school in 7th grade. Students graduating from high-school must take high school exit exams in Bulgarian and another subject of their choice. Usual grading system in secondary school Full Description: 2-6; 6: otlichen (excellent); 5: mnogo dobur (very good); 4: dobur (good); 3: sreden (sufficient); 2: slab (poor). Highest on scale: 6 Pass/fail level: 3/2 Lowest on scale: 2 Secondary Type of school providing this education: Gimnazii (form IX to XII) Length of program in years: 4 (Age level from: 14 to: 19) Certificate/diploma awarded: Diploma za Zavurcheno Sredno Obrazovanie (Diploma of Completed Secondary Education) Type of school providing this education: Profilirani Gimnazii (form IX to XII) Length of program in years: 5 Age level from: 15 to: 19 Certificate/diploma awarded: Diploma za Zavurcheno Sredno Obrazovanie (Diploma of Completed Secondary Education) Vocational Secondary Type of school providing this education: Professionalni gimnazii I/ili technikumil Length of program in years: 4 Age level from: 15 to: 19 Certificate/diploma awarded: Diploma za Zavurcheno Sredno Obrazovanie (Diploma of Completed Secondary Education) and Certificate of Professional Qualification. Vocational Secondary Type of school providing this education: Professionalni utchilichta Length of program in years: 4 Age level from: 15 to: 19 Certificate/diploma awarded: Diploma za Zavurcheno Sredno Obrazovanie (Diploma of Completed Secondary Education) and Certificate of Professional Qualification Higher Education The types of higher education institutions are Universities, Colleges and Specialized Higher Schools. Universities, as in most countries worldwide, have three stages: Bachelor's (undergraduate), Master's (graduate), and Doctoral degrees. Undergraduate stage lasts for at least four years and graduate stage lasts for five years after completion of secondary education or one year after obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree. The third stage of higher education results in obtaining a Ph.D. Degree. Specialized higher schools offer degrees in one or more areas of science, arts, sports, and defense. Usually, the names of these institutions indicate the area of specialization. Colleges are former semi-higher institutes. Some of them are part of universities and use their equipment and facilities. Some of the most prestigious universities in Bulgaria are Sofia University, University of National and World Economy, Plovdiv University, Technical University, and SouthWest University "Neofit Rilski“. Teacher education: Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers Primary school teachers are trained at Kliment Ohridski University in Sofia, Saints Cyril and Methodius University of Valiko Târnovo, the University of Shumen, St Paďssďi Hilendarski University of Plovdiv and at some Academies of Arts. Courses, which last for four and five years, lead to the professional qualification of teacher. Training of secondary school teachers Secondary school teachers obtain their professional qualification of teacher after four or five years of post-secondary studies (at a university or at some Academies of Arts), during which they receive special training in teaching. Training of higher education teachers Higher education teachers are trained at universities.