On 7th August, the NGO "Start Academy Sofia" opened the "Summer Start Academy" summer school for children who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out from school. The main objective of the initiative is to improve the children's academic performance and to develop key personal skills, helping them to stay in or return to school.
The Academy will continue for three weeks in the Health and Social Center for Development of the Roma Community in Fakulteta District established by the Health and Social Development Foundation. It will teach 60 children, most of whom face significant difficulties in school and are in need of catching up while their parents do not have the means to pay for summer activities. Everyday students will have classes in Bulgarian language and mathematics as well as activities developing key soft skills such as team work, effective communication and emotional intelligence.
This project is an opportunity to test an innovative model of learning where children are divided into small groups according to their level of subject knowledge rather than age. Each child will have a personal development plan and will follow their progress along with their mentor-teacher. Each group will work with an experienced teacher and a volunteer - a high school student.
Teach for Bulgaria have noted that early school leaving is among the most serious problems in Bulgarian education. Statistics show that over the school year 2015/2016, over 21,000 students dropped out of school. At the micro level, this significantly reduces the chances of adolescents for successful realization in life, and at a macro level it affects the economy and society in the state. This makes the "Summer Start Academy" a move in the right direction and an initiative to use as example in regard to integration and development of the young Bulgarian society in need of support.