COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Bulgaria/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.7 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

In Bulgaria, the National Council for Co-operation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues (NCCEDI), under the aegis of the Council of Ministers, is the main national level institution which is responsible for coordinating policies related to intercultural dialogue. It facilitates cooperation between state bodies and NGOs of different minority groups and considers policy proposals submitted by other Ministry departments. Following approval by the Council of Ministers, the NCCEDI monitors, analyses and coordinates measures aimed to:
  • guarantee human rights;
  • preserve and strengthen tolerance and understanding; and
  • create conditions which ethnic minorities in Bulgaria need, in order to sustain and develop their culture, as well as to preserve the most important elements of their identity: religion, language, traditions and cultural heritage.

Regional Councils on ethnic and demographic issues are being created within the administrative structures of district governments. They are responsible for implementing nationally approved measures in their relevant district / region, as well as for developing relevant regional strategies and programmes.

The NCCEDI receives annual funding, from the Council of Minister's budget, to support organisations of ethnic minority groups and their activities. The following types of projects are eligible for funding:

  • cultural events such as arts festivals, exhibitions (fine arts, applied arts and crafts);
  • artistic groups and their activities such as theatres, choirs, dance performances, art schools, etc;
  • celebrations of historical and traditional holidays;
  • organisation of seminars and conferences;
  • educational projects;
  • extra-curricular education programmes for children and students;
  • printing and distribution of poetry, collections of folk tales, songs, proverbs; and
  • audio and video productions.

In 2004, the National Council adopted the "Strategy for Educational Integration of Children and Students from Ethnic Minority Groups".  This strategy and follow-up action plans were developed by the Ministry of Education and Science for the school years 2004/2005 and 2008/2009. For more specific information on the strategy and the action plan see: http://www.ncedi.government.bg/MoES-STRATEGY.htm and http://www.ncedi.government.bg/1_Action%25PlanStrategyBGL.htm.

One of the conclusions reported on in the national strategy is that "the history and culture of minorities are insufficiently presented" in the general school curricula. Activities designed to address this deficiency are outlined in the National Action Plan:

  • to provide various means for kindergarten and elementary level students to learn about the history and culture of ethnic minorities;
  • to integrate intercultural education in the curricula of the humanities courses;
  • to examine existing curricula, with a view to eliminate references to ethnocentrism, negative stereotypes and hostile speech;
  • to organise annual seminars to train teaching staff in intercultural education and human rights;
  • the Ministry of Education and Science is to create an electronic library and database which will contain information related to intercultural education;
  • the Ministry of Culture and municipalities are to prepare an ethno-cultural calendar for the school year taking into account regional specificities; and
  • schools and municipalities are to organise school trips which would help acquaint students with the different ethnic-cultures in Bulgaria.

Both the national strategy and action plan were drawn up on the basis of a report conducted by the International Centre for the Study of Minorities and Cultural Interaction, available from: http://www.imir-bg.org/.

Culture plays a key role in the National Action Plan on the Roma Inclusion Decade (2005-2015). The main purpose of this action plan is to achieve sustainable and cultural integration of the Roma people in Bulgarian society. The following activities have been envisaged:

  • support for programmes and projects for cultural and social integration at a municipal level;
  • open new libraries, internet-clubs, schools, courses;
  • support for artistic groups and others undertaking creative work;
  • setting up, maintaining and supporting "chitalisthe" cultural clubs in the Roma districts;
  • establishment of a "chitalisthe" resource centre for the Roma in Sofia, which would establish a Roma chitalisthe centres' network, through which consultations could be held, information exchanged and education programmes set up;
  • creation of a Roma musical theatre;
  • using audiovisual tools to record and document talented people in the area of Roma music, song, and dance, as well as those with traditional skills and craftspeople;
  • creation and maintenance of a Roma culture web portal; and
  • improvement of the Roma's public image in the social, and particularly in the media space.

The authorities responsible for realising these activities are: the Ministry of Culture, the NCCEDI, the Folklore Institute under the Bulgarian Academy of Science and non-governmental organisations.

The European Year for Intercultural Dialogue 2008 was launched in Bulgaria on 30 January 2008 by its National coordinator - the Ministry of Culture - announcing the National project "HOUSE", co-financed by the European Commission. The project consisted of communication events, concerts, thematic films and screenings, specialised publications, exhibitions, conferences, seminars and round tables, 2 events in its main programme, as well as many associated events throughout the country. Several thousand participants were directly involved. A detailed programme and information about the events is available at http://www.dialogue2008.bg/.

Additional Resources:

Government's overall approach to intercultural dialogue

Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue

Key Resources
Chapter published: 20-01-2011

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