[Bulgaria] The School in Sofia That Accepts the Children Who Are Unwanted Elsewhere

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09 Jul 2018

Dnevnik.bg shared the history of 59th Vasil Levski School in the Malashevtsi neighbourhood, Sofia, Bulgaria. The school is determined in its mission to accept all marginalised children who want to learn. The article states that there are nearly 270 children, most of whom are Roma. There were also 20 refugee children in the school, 9 of whom completed the school year, while the rest had left the country.
The school principal, Mariana Bozhkova, has held this position for 20 years. During her career, there was a time when there were 1,200 children in the building, each class having 1-2 of Roma origin. In her view, this was a successful integration model, but since not all institutions are currently involved in this inevitably long and focused process, she decided that 59th school will do its best on its own.
59th Vassil Levski School does not reject anybody. Although in a democratic state this should be a fact for all educational institutions, in Bulgaria there are a number of examples of discriminatory refusal to accept Roma children (Dnevnik's article gives the example of 9th Primary School "Peyo Yavorov" in Blagoevgrad). Thanks to European funds through partnership with the local municipality and non-governmental organizations, Bozhkova has refurbished key elements of the school and created good conditions for "folklore clubs, work with computers, additional classes for the Bulgarian language, sexual and reproductive health , arts, singing".
The proactivity of the school is also displayed by the existence of a team that often walks around Malashevtsi's houses to collect children and take them to school, despite the lack of interest of some of the parents. As pupils are mostly Roma children, during the upcoming school year, the school will have additional resources for hiring a psychologist and educational mediator and, if possible, a social worker and doctor for quality vaccination of children.

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