Bulgaria Education Minister Demands Education Reform Referendum
Bulgaria's Deputy PM and Education Minister, Daniel Valchev, requested Tuesday a referendum on education reform.
Valchev spoke in connection with statements made by the Bulgarian President, Georgi Parvanov, who promised to schedule a referendum about the election system.
The Deputy Prime Minister stated it was very important to ask Bulgarian people about their opinion on the educational reform, adding he did not insist on a separate referendum, but to rather include the question about education in Bulgaria in the one proposed by Parvanov.
The project for the new Education Act triggered heated discussions among different parts of the Bulgarian society such as the Orthodox Church, governmental and parent organizations while its move in the Parliament was postponed by two weeks by the Parliamentary session's Chair and Minister of the Emergency Situations, Emel Etem.
In addition to Etem, other members of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms Party (DPS) expressed objections towards the reform. Lyutvi Mestan said that such an important Act should not be considered just months before the current Cabinet's mandate expires.
The new Act provides for strict measures to improve discipline and classroom behavior at schools, a ban on religious symbols' display, making education mandatory up to grade 10, increased accountability from principals and teachers, providing substitute teachers in case of teachers' absences.
In addition, the Education Minister denied rumors that he was going to run at the upcoming elections on the ballot of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). Valchev said he did not have leftist convictions.
Valchev is a member of the Cabinet from the National Movement for Stability and Progress Party (NMSP) of former PM and Tsar, Simeon Saxe-Coburg. Polls show NMSP has very slim chances to enter the next Parliament.
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