The Bulgarian formal educational system is structured as follows:
- pre-primary education (0 to 6 years)
- primary education (first through fourth grade)
- lower-secondary education (fifth through eighth grade)
- upper-secondary education (ninth through twelfth grade)
- higher education
All classes in public schools and universities are taught in Bulgarian. The school year is divided into two terms for students in schools, and two semesters for university students. Classes in schools start on September 15th and the school year ends on June 30th for high school students. Younger students finish by the end of May or mid-June. Throughout the school year, the students’ skills and knowledge are tested through oral, written, practical exams and tests. The Bulgarian grading system is based on a 6 grade qualitative and quantitative scale (poor 2, fair 3, good 4, very good 5, and excellent 6).
Pre-primary education in Bulgaria is provided for children between 3 and 6/7 years old. As of 2016/2017, pre-primary education will be compulsory either at kindergarten or in preparatory groups at primary schools for children at the age of four. Currently, the compulsory pre-primary education concerns children aged five.
Free education aids for children in the compulsory pre-primary groups are provided by the state. Parents pay only a monthly fee for food. Additional lessons in Bulgarian are provided for children who do not speak the language or have problems speaking it.
Kindergartens and nursing schools operate Monday to Friday, 7.00-19.00, but parents can choose to take their children home around lunch time. There are nursery schools for children aged 0-3 and kindergartens for children aged 3 to 6/7 years.
Nurseries are available to take care of and educate children from three months to three years.
To enroll at a nursery, parents will need to provide the following:
- An application form
- A birth certificate
The medical status register which every child has from birth
- Test results for pathogenic intestinal diseases and intestinal parasites. These tests must be carried out 15 days before the child starts nursery school
- Urine and blood tests of the child, done up to one month before the child goes to the nursery school
Kindergartens in Bulgaria are available for children from three years onward until they start primary school. Foreign citizens resident in Bulgaria have the right to enroll their child in a public kindergarten. Each municipality agrees on the kind of procedure and criteria applicable for child enrolment.
The duration of primary education is four years. Normally, it starts when a child turns seven, but it is not uncommon for parents to send their children in the 1st grade at the age of six. There are no restrictions regarding the choice of non-specialized primary schools. However, some schools would only accept children with an address registration in the neighbourhood where the school is located.
Once the child has reached the age of seven (or six if the parent chooses), parents can enroll their child at a school of their choice. Enrolment takes place at the school itself. The documents required for enrolment may vary from one municipality to another but in general the parents must provide:
- copy of the birth certificate
- certificate proving completion of the compulsory pre-school years
- application form
Documents not in Bulgarian need to be translated by an official translator and in some cases diplomas and certificates from foreign countries will need to be approved by the Ministry of Education and Science.
In Bulgarian public schools tuition in the Bulgarian language must be provided for children that do not speak the language.