Is education in Bulgaria an investment? At the beginning of the new school year I would like to turn our attention to education again – a very thorny and sensitive topic in this country. But how important and indispensable is it for the future development and realization of our children? Here I would like to offer yet another point of view.
The lack of well-trained, qualified and motivated people is the biggest problem that businesses in Bulgaria face. The demographic collapse and emigration are just one aspect of the problem, the change in values that young people hold and the way they understand education and employment as a whole are another. According to official statistics currently there are 200 thousand people in Bulgaria who belong to the labour market but neither work nor study.
It is a straightforward fact that there is something wrong with the educational system as a whole – from the primary school to university education. Let us start with the role parent have. They put all their efforts, ambition and resources into their children’s school education – private lessons, private schools, final exams with all the emotions and adrenaline around them… And what are the results – the children become worn out before they reach the age when they have to be motivated and qualify for their future profession – this occurs when they become university students.
And as part of the puzzle we have the adequacy of the educational system and the relevance of the curricula, the motivation of teachers and lecturers and many other factors. As former minister of education Daniel Valchev put it “…Bulgarian education is like the wonderful story by Lewis Carroll ‘Alice in Wonderland’ – if you want to stay in one place, you have to run very fast.”
We all discuss the good examples we see in the educational system in Finland, France, South Korea, Singapore and others where children are not pressed and stressed in early school years, while in Bulgaria things are done in quite the opposite way.
But should we always blame the education system for all the failures in life? Here are a few examples from different parts of the world:
Chris Dawson could neither read nor write, but he managed to establish and develop the British chain The Range with more than 150 stores in the United Kingdom and to accumulate considerable wealth. Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA and one of the most affluent and successful entrepreneurs in the world, left school at the age of 17.
The British businessman and adventurer Richard Branson is also one of the wealthiest and most influential people in the world, but he was a poor student and could not complete even his secondary education. We could add to this list the names of other very successful but ‘uneducated’ people – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Daniel Ek, Mark Zuckerberg…
It is not always education and the degree that predetermine the better (the financial success and realization) future of young people. It is, however, a fact that good education provides a good start in life. It provides knowledge, builds useful habits, industriousness, discipline, good memory, constructive thinking. All these are qualities that are relevant, essential and necessary in today’s dynamic and changing world.