WHAT IS A GOOD EDUCATION?

by Bozhidara Georgieva

The best educational institutions in Bulgaria provide the answer

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What should our children study today in order to be successful adults tomorrow? The question is extremely important – and nobody can give a precise answer. Our lives, technologies and society are changing too fast. Established professions are going extinct and are being replaced with new ones, which have been completely unknown before. AI is permeating all spheres of life, bringing the general feel of uncertainty to a whole new level. How, in this case, can one be prepared for the future?

The good news is that we are not as helpless as we think we are. For some years now, quality educational institutions of all types – from nurseries and kindergartens to schools and universities, have been following the thin red line of education based both on mastering academic knowledge and skills, and on creating wholesome individuals. Good educational institutions have the foresight to understand that the people of the future will have to be flexible, adaptable, proactive and creative in order to thrive. Teaching soft skills and the ability to make independent decisions and to think outside of the box is becoming imperative. For young people's professional and personal success the capability to make friends and acquaintances in a multicultural and multilingual environment will be key. Deep understanding of the foundations of different scientific subjects and discovering the connections between seemingly unconnected spheres in human knowledge and life will be also important for young people's future success.

The methods and ways in which the good educational institutions achieve this are different and depend on factors such as the children and young people's age, and the profile of the school or the university. Thanks to this approach you have more options to find the best education for the child or teenager's individual preferences, needs and talents than you might probably expect. Some of these places are the result of Bulgaria's unique educational tradition, while others are recent initiatives or a part of bigger international networks. You will find them not only in the capital Sofia, but also all over the country – a great chance to invest in the most important thing – your children's future.

Education with the Montessori method has long proven its capability to create focused, confident and empathic children who grow into successful adults. Otkrivatel Montessori School (Sofia, 6 Bolgrad St, phone: 0885 500 155, www.montessorischools.bg) goes a step further. Established in 2012 by one of the few internationally certified Montessori pedagogues in Europe capable of working with children aged 0-18 it offers bilingual education and grows with its students. Since the past year, Otkrivatel offers not only nursery, kindergarten and elementary school, but also secondary education. In line with its ambition to educate independent thinking, bravery and responsibility towards the society, for its secondary school Otkrivatel chose the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. The students will graduate with internationally recognised prestigious diplomas and the key competencies to become happy adults who succeed and innovate in whatever profession they have chosen.

The bilingual kindergarten Maple Bear (info@sofia.maplebear-cee.com, www.maplebear-cee.com) is a member of the Maple Bear Global Schools – the fastest growing global Canadian educational chain of nurseries, kindergartens and schools. The professionals in it are aware how important early development is for the future happiness of children and have created a stress-free environment where respectful communication, warmth and encouragement are a part of everyday life. Maple Bear offers a friendly learning environment and an accepting community that teaches life-long curiosity and helps grown children to become successful and full with ideas and inspiration for development and prosperity. At Maple Bear children study in English and Bulgarian. The curriculum and the educational methodologies are regularly reexamined and adapted to guarantee the best possible education of students.

Even the most ambitious school sometimes is not able to provide all that its students truly need – especially when fields like robotics, physics, informatics and programming are concerned. Academy Nikola Tesla (www.ant.bg) fills the gap. The extracurricular classes in the academy are for children and students of all ages and offer an innovative way to master knowledge and skills that are key for success in the digital world. From an early age, the students at Academy Nikola Tesla master the secrets of programming, learn to think logically, to seek hidden connections, to be creative and responsible. All of these are crucial for them to grow as individuals who are not only able to overcome the challenges of today and tomorrow, but also to thrive in this environment and to fulfil their dreams. Academy Nikola Tesla has branches in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna, and also organises online classes.

The success of the graduates is the best proof for the success of a university. In the case with the American University in Bulgaria (www.aubg.edu) the success of both the alumni and the educational institution is beyond doubt. Since it was founded in 1991 in Blagoevgrad, the university has pushed towards building a vibrant, engaged academic environment in the best traditions of American liberal arts colleges and has attracted top faculty and motivated students from Bulgaria and all over the world. This strive towards diversity, combined with modern, open to the world education and the emphasis on its practical application are the core reasons for the successful realisation of the BA and EMBA alumni of AUBG. Today, in the global academia and business you will meet many former students of the university in Blagoevgrad who actively work to make the world a better place.

The University of Agribusiness and Rural Development (Plovdiv, 78 Dunav Blvd, www.uard.bg) did not choose the slogan "Academy for leaders" by a coincidence. Since its establishment in 2011 as the heir of the Higher School "Agricultural College" it unfailingly walks the road to innovation, striving for development and offering quality education, and international partnerships. The BA and MA programmes in UARD are in the field of economics and administration and management, and the PhD programme is in finance and banking. The university relies on the balancing between theoretical and practical education, and focuses on creating professionals in the field of agribusiness, tourism, management of the regions, the food quality and safety. UARD is an active participant in international partnerships, including the Erasmus+ programme. It is a member of the Visegrad University Association and the European Association of Higher Education Institutions (EURASHE), and is one of the first five Bulgarian universities that joined the European university networks. The UARD's Institute for Regional Studies is a member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

At the University of Economics – Varna (Varna, 77 Knyaz Boris I Blvd, phone: +359 52 800 890, www.ue-varna.bg) the rule of thumb is that education is tightly connected with real life and business. With its BA, MA and PhD programmes, UE-Varna offers the full range of economics subjects needed to modern society and business. In each of them, the university encourages and actively supports its students to become entrepreneurs even before graduation. UE-Varna has its own entrepreneurship accelerator, a system with registered partnering companies where students can have traineeships, and faculty that is strongly connected with the real business. The processes in the university are digitized and the participation in the Erasmus+ programme and the partnership with international higher education institutions allow the Bulgarian youth to broaden their horizon and attract a significant number of foreign students.

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