We would like to introduce you to Rosa's story. She lives in the Plovdiv region of Bulgaria and she is in 4th grade. Nobody from her household speaks Bulgarian. She rarely leaves her neighbourhood because she is scared. It has happened for her to be bullied or threatened in the centre of the city. She speaks her native Romani language but struggles with Bulgarian since 1st grade. She sits at the back of the room and does not participate in class. She tries to copy the letters she sees on the board but often does not manage to as the teacher wipes them out too fast. She has learned a couple of words in Bulgarian, but she still finds it difficult. People around her act like she is supposed to be fluent in it as it is the language of instruction at school. Rosa could be the next student to drop out from school way too early.
In Bulgaria early dropout from the education system concerns mainly children from the largest ethnic minority in the country - the Roma. For 55% of the Roma families the main language for communication is different from Bulgarian; moreover, 19% of Roma adults are illiterate. Thus, Roma children face extreme inequality at the start of their education due to their lack of proficiency in Bulgarian, often leading to early dropouts from school and failure to integrate into their school, community and in society.
47% of 15-year-olds in Bulgaria did not attain Level 2 proficiency in reading (OECD average: 23%) on the last PISA report. What is even more disheartening is that the number of students who cannot grasp the meaning of a text, differentiate between facts and opinions, or identify relationships of cause and effect has increased by 5.5% in three years. One of the main reasons for this is again the lack of Bulgarian language proficiency for many students. In fact, over 20% of all children who start school in Bulgaria each year are not native Bulgarian language speakers. This leaves students illiterate in the official language and therefore they struggle in all other subjects.
Students like Rosa do not receive additional language support and the faculty in the current education system is unprepared to properly engage with children in such a situation. The system does not have the diagnostic tools nor the teaching methodology and educational resources to support these students.
Join us in providing these children with an equal start at school! You have until December 31st 2020 to donate and join us on this journey of bringing positive change to the education system in the country!
We at Teach For Bulgaria partnered with linguists from the Bulgaria-based NGO EducArt and started working together on developing functional, practical and useful Bulgarian language training tools for primary school students. We have achieved a lot together but we still need your support in order to bring this project to its final stage and reach all children in need of specialised language support.
Our long-term goal is to implement this language support methodology on a country-wide level by working with our public sector partners (such as the Ministry of Education) and to support all children of ethnic minority background in Bulgaria in their academic growth and social integration, ultimately presenting them with a wider access to development opportunities in the future.
Donating today supports these children for their future.
Thank you for believing in our cause.
Teach For Bulgaria Team