The idea of diversity education is predominantly present at the national level and is reflected in some of the laws of Bulgaria. The main objectives of diversity education programs are primarily focused on equality and the promotion of tolerance.
According to Art. 22, Ch. 2, (8) of the Pre-school and School Education Act, state education standards are for civil, health, environmental and intercultural education. In Art. 76, (5) states that in the process of school education subjects in the field of intercultural education may be taught.
According to Art. 6 of Ordinance 13 on Civil, Health, Environmental and Intercultural Education, adopted in 2016, the intercultural education is part of the class, interest activities and general support activities for personal development. According to Art. 7, the intercultural education is provided by integration and through a separate school subject called Civil Education.
The Inclusive Education Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Science is engaged in supporting the state policy for the development of forms of educational integration of children and students with special educational needs and with chronic diseases in the system of pre-school and school education.
The Ministry of Education and Science also has a directorate responsible for working with the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. The Agency is funded by the Ministries of Education from the member states and the EC, with the support of the EP.
The Draft National Strategy for the Child 2019-2030 is in line with the objectives and fundamental principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the strategy, every child in the country should live and develop its potential in an integrated healthy, safe and encouraging environment for self-development. The planned measures are divided into five key areas, including quality education for all children.
The Centre for Educational Integration of Children and Students from Ethnic Minorities (CEIDUEM) was established in Bulgaria by Decree 4 of the Council of Ministers of January 11, 2005. A Strategy for the Educational Integration of Children and Students from Ethnic Minorities was adopted for the period 2015-2020. This document focuses on the realisation of educational integration in Bulgarian kindergartens and schools with the following: intercultural education, preservation and development of the cultural identity of minority groups through education and teaching in the mother tongue about history and culture. Article 2 of the Strategy focuses on interculturality, which is interpreted as an opportunity for mutual enrichment through interaction between children and students, expression of their own cultural identity and an issue when it comes to national self-isolation or self-isolational identity. A major problem pointed out in the strategy is that “the study of the traditional culture of the respective ethnic community is not widely involved in the educational process”. The strategy is forced to find a solution the following problems in relation to intercultural education: to make the intercultural approach fundamental in the planning of activities and in the organisation of training; more educational content on the history and culture of ethnic minorities; stimulating and recruiting pedagogical specialists who have the competence to impart knowledge and skills to children on the perception of ethno-cultural differences; and overcoming negative stereotypes and cultural distances.
The Public Council on Cultural Diversity, within the Ministry of Culture, has been operating since 2002. International student exchanges are being organised in art schools, which are under the management of the Ministry of Culture.
The Ministry of Education and Science organises training courses for academic personnel covering information about Roma history and culture, problem solving and management of the class.
Efforts to set up intercultural education programmes in the system of secondary schools are the prerogative of each individual educational institution.
Regional Councils on Ethnic and Integration issues are functioning under the regional administrations (28 in total) and are working on programmes approved by these authorities. The Councils involve experts from the regional administrations, mayors of municipalities, representatives of the territorial units of the central executives, and public minorities’ organisations working in the respective regions. Such experts are nominated in almost half of the 263 Bulgarian municipalities.
Beyond the traditional education system, NGOs play an important role in promoting social inclusion and tolerance by developing different educational projects. Since 2016, the Red House Centre for Culture and Debate and the Gulliver Clearing House Foundation have been working with local and immigrant communities in one of Sofia’s neighbourhoods. They bring children and young people who are living on the street and their families to the education workshops – reading and writing; art workshops – theatre, psychodrama, dance, drawing; and a social storytelling studio. In 2018, the project received support from the Sofia Municipality’s Europe 2018 Program.