"He who studies will succeed," is an old Bulgarian saying which today reflects not only the national, but also the global understanding of the importance of education. Without education nothing can be achieved, particularly now, when the world trends on the labour market change every few years, when the ability for innovative thinking is valued at least as much as the knowledge accumulated for years, and when the concept for lifelong learning is a reality for millions in the world.
Without proper education, the future happiness and professional realisation are impossible for young people. This, of course, is not a current discovery. This story about Socrates has been long in circulation: the sage said to a young mother that if she had already missed the first seven months of her baby's life to start his education, she was being hopelessly late. It is also true, however, that modern education has discovered a lot more than this old wisdom.
Today we know that the education of children as thinking, creative personalities who are not afraid of exploring the world should begin from the earliest age possible. We also know that education should not be obligatorily connected with boredom, forceful studying of information, fear from the school, the tests and the marks, and stress.
While until recently all of these were completely in the hands of the parents, today there are already nurseries and kindergartens who rely completely – and professionally – on this approach, guaranteeing a successful result.
Valshebnoto Borche Kindergarten and Nursery: Creators and explorers
A number of studies has shown that the intelligence of the adult is most fully determined by the type of intellectual stimulation in childhood, with a person reaching 50% of his or her potential at an age of 4 years. The specialists at Valshebnoto Borche (Magic Pine Tree) Kindergarten and Nursery (Sofia, Poligona, block 40, www.borche.org, FB: Borche.org) realise the importance of the first years of children's lives and make purposeful efforts and care for the best development of their emotional stability and awareness. They have created a magical space of games, new knowledge and education in love. The kindergarten is for children aged 1 to 7 years, and applies a curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education. For the Valshebnoto Borche team, children's creativity is a leading principle in all activities. Through it, they aim to develop children's imagination, emotional stability and individuality, borrowing ideas from the Maria Montessori and the Waldorf pedagogy. An accent in their curriculum are the virtues classes, English-only activities, different sport, children mathematics and scientific experiments fit for the particular age group. The kindergarten aims for children to develop their ability to process and use the acquired knowledge and skills in every situation of their everyday lives. To be explorers of the vast world surrounding them, fearless of seeking for the answers to the questions that are important for them, and to feel the need to experiment and create.
The innovative pedagogical ideas of Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner, creator of the Waldorf education, have been spreading and developing around the world since the beginning of the past century. Due to a combination of circumstances, they had a late start in Bulgaria, arriving in the beginning of the 21st century. Bulgaria, however, is bridging the gap. Thanks to dedicated specialists who threw themselves into the application of innovative ideas on local soil, the first impressive results are already here. That is why it is a small surprise that the educational institutions applying these have established themselves as preferred among the parents who want to give their children the best chances for their future.
Nikolay Raynov Private School: The first Waldorf school in Bulgaria
Founded 7 years ago, Nikolay Raynov Private School (Sofia, 44 Gorski Patnik St, www.waldorf.bg/wp/bg/) is a member of the innovative schools network in Bulgaria, which is a part of the new policy of the Education Ministry for modernisation of Bulgarian education. The school is also a part of the international network of Waldorf schools, and every year its teachers travel and observe the work of their colleagues in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy. Nikolay Raynov Private School also enjoys the special attention and support of the international Waldorf institutions for implementation of the pedagogy's principles in the best possible way. The school's goal is to help for the development of the whole educational system, which explains its openness for observation and follow-up studies of the results from the application of the pedagogy and the organisation's principles. The school is a nonprofit organisation in the public interest. It doesn't pretend to be for the select few, and doesn't limit its children acceptance. Its mission is to demonstrate that children in school can grow up with the feel for freedom and self-importance, that learning can be wholesome and practically oriented, and most importantly, that the learning process can make children curious and ready for new knowledge. Their interactions with the teachers, the way the school is organised and the parents' involvement help them to develop their social skills, too, and to gradually develop an active standpoint they are able to express in a constructive manner. All of these are simple, yet important things, that all schools and educational systems should provide to children.
Foreign language education has stable traditions in Bulgaria. It is hardly a coincidence that the good specialised high-school education in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian and other languages is singled out as one of the advantages of young Bulgarians on the global labour market. In the country there are also schools which have become institutions with bringing English-language education at a new level of quality. They are for the children of the international community. Their international profile and their connections with similar schools abroad make them an excellent start for everyone who dreams of a global career anywhere in the world.
The Anglo-American School of Sofia: With a mission for tomorrow
The Anglo-American School of Sofia (Sofia, Pancharevo, 1 Siyanie St, www.aas-sofia.org) is an independent, non-profit school, offering an educational program from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 for students of all nationalities. Its mission is to engage, support and prepare each student for today and tomorrow. Its core values are commitment, respect and excellence. Founded in 1967, AAS has a rich history of providing a high-quality education to the children of the international community in Sofia. Currently in it study more than 520 students, aged 4 to 18, from over 50 countries. More than 60% of the teaching staff and students are holders of international passports. The AAS is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), and is an authorised International Baccalaureate World School. AAS is a member of the Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA), as well as the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). Students and staff have opportunities to participate in a variety of activities, athletics and professional development in the region. Education at the AAS is viewed as more than acquisition of knowledge. Its curriculum is based on the best practices of international education. The language of instruction is English. The foreign languages taught at AAS include Bulgarian, French, and Spanish. AAS provides 15 full-academic scholarships for talented Bulgarian students each year.
Contemporary children's education goes way beyond the need for learning and acquiring knowledge in foreign languages, mathematics, nature sciences, arts. Modern children should navigate in an environment that is completely different from the one that existed only 15 years ago. Internet is everywhere, and social networks became a way of living one has to struggle to escape from, if escape is even possible. Even for adults it is difficult to navigate this environment, and for children whose personality and moral criteria are in the process of formation, this can become a task beyond their strength. Happily, there are already platforms and trainings that provide children, parents and teachers with a smooth entry to the digital world, safely using its advantages.
DigitalKidZ®: Open Source School: Needed navigation in the ocean of Internet
There is hardly a responsible parent who hasn't worried about the dangers children are vulnerable to in the Internet: from pornography to bullying. The DigitalKidZ Foundation (www.digitalkidz.eu) aims to develop among institutions and parents sensitivity towards this topic, and to help them in building the digital literacy of the generation that doesn't know the world without the Internet.
Three years ago, the foundation started the DigitalKidZ®: Open Source School initiative and lobbying for improvement of our digital literacy and the transformation of Bulgarian education in unison with the competencies of the 21st century. The foundation believes that with the improvement of the children's security in the Internet, we prepare them for their future professional development and for life in a technology-"addicted" society.
DigitalKidZ Hub is the innovative centre for work with children, where the team of the DigitalKidZ Foundation is working and creating the DigitalKidZ STEM Club: a portable educational programme for computer programming, emotional intelligence and STEM sciences (mathematics, engineering, applied and technical sciences). The foundation organises programming olympiads for children aged 8-16, and has developed active educational games for home and at school. The manuals and e-books by DigitalKidZ®: Open Source School offer theoretical training for the behavioural profile, the education and the educational needs of modern "digital kids" and are suitable for independent work at home.
The easiest way to learn more on contemporary digital literacy, with theoretical training and concrete instruments for transformation of contemporary education of "digital kids," are the traditional DigitalKidZ®: Open Source School conferences. The next one is on 18 November, promising a number of practical workshops led by internationally recognised education experts and by specialists from Fight with the Organised Crime Department of the Ministry of Interior, in the section "aggression at school" and online security. Tickets are on sale on www.digitalkidz.eu.
The choice of a life's vocation and a professional realisation is one of the hardest and most fateful decisions a young – and even not that young – person has to make. Particularly today. Professions that used to appear well established now look endangered by extinction due to new technologies – from a truck driver (the work on development of self-driving cars continue) to journalist. No one is certain on what future will bring him or her, but if one thing looks certain, it is that in the choice of profession one has to rely on either something highly specialised and technological, like software engineering, or on a profession that involves work that cannot be performed by machines, that appeals to a wide circle of people and that can provide one with a job wherever in the world he or she is located.
HRC Culinary Academy: On the road to culinary art
Everyone loves tasty and elegant food, but few can prepare it. The international HRC Culinary Academy (Sofia, 59 Tsar Boris III Blvd , www.hrcacademy.com) is a rare opportunity for people who want to make good food a profession, and to succeed in Bulgaria and abroad. The Academy has dedicated itself to the building of the new generation of chefs and F&B managers in accordance with the highest international requirements. It offers training kitchens, chocolate workshop, bakery, demonstration restaurant, demo theatre, library and enoteca, where carefully selected team of Bulgarian and foreign professionals share their knowledge and skills with the motivated students. The opportunities for having an adequate education that opens doors to professional realisation in Bulgaria and abroad is a priority for the HRC Culinary Academy. The Culinary Arts programme is 2 years and includes 2 internships at top restaurants abroad, while the training in F&B Management covers 3 semesters, one of which is practical. HRC Culinary Academy is not only for people dreaming of a professional career. It offers also culinary courses for enthusiasts who want to bring their culinary skills to a new level.